Tutors agree to stage a day’s strike in protest against Vice-Chancellor’s wage increase.
The legitimacy of Nigel Thrift’s pay rise has been questioned by the student body since the beginning of the year. What is less known however, is that the pay rise has also stirred up passionate animosity among many of the staff employed by the university.
With government cuts tripling the cost of tuition fees, and Warwick’s position in domestic and international league tables falling, one might think the Vice Chancellor’s pay rise was poorly timed. This has certainly been the sentiment among many students, although protest has so far failed to transpire beyond social media.
Last week, staff members formally announced a day’s strike to take place early on 25th May in order to demonstrate their displeasure at Nigel Thrift’s wages. The strike is fully supported by the university’s Human Resources department, and will see a range from cleaners and security staff to professors and lab technicians refusing to work for 24 hours.
Staff strikes are not new to Warwick, but this promises to be the most widespread ever witnessed and would represent the first time such action is called to demonstrate against internal affairs. The fact the Vice Chancellor is enjoying a pay rise of approximately £3,000 while many staff members have had their pay frozen has been listed as the major grievance.
While most students may sympathise with the protest, initial reactions have been largely critical. Annie Wanda, 3rd Year Early Childhood Studies, remarked, ”I am disappointed the staff have chosen to protest in a way which only inconveniences students. Exams are coming, and we need our tutors.”
Derek Mountain, 1st year Sociology: ”Frankly, I’m pissed. His pay rise is not going to change. While he counts the cash the tutors make us suffer.”
Another student, who wished to remain anonymous, said: ”While the staff action does seem a bit pointless, I think it’s a good example of how to put discontent into action. We’re quick to write Facebook statuses about stuff we don’t like, but does anyone actually do anything? No. I applaud the staff for having the guts to make a real stand where students are idle.”
With naked calendars, ‘Bra-gate’ and Moo Bar’s wallpaper already registering on the national media’s radars this year, this will undoubtedly bring yet more negative attention to the university.
The HR department have been reluctant to provide much information, but have stated on their website that the strike was approved with an overwhelming 74% of the staff body vote, and only 13% abstaining.
Mr Hugh Cumber, HR, stated: ‘We understand that this is a controversial move, but we are responding to a highly controversial misappropriation of finances. We believe that by timing this in the third term, formally timetabled lectures and classes are less likely to be affected.’