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Leeds’ Vice-Chancellor has responded to the outrage over pay cuts for striking staff

Staff and alumni are not happy with his response

Leeds' Vice-Chancellor Sir Alan Langlands has responded to outrage over threats to cut staff pay by 25% if they fail to reschedule teaching that was missed during the strikes.

The Tab previously reported that Leeds alumni were "dismayed" at the University's treatment of striking staff and were withdrawing their donations to the University.

In his letter, sent via email to staff members, Sir Alan claims that the University's approach to action short of a strike (ASOS) has been misrepresented.

He said, "Colleagues will not experience pay deductions because they declare themselves to be taking ASOS: there is no question of deducting pay from staff who are working to contract.

"The possibility of pay deduction would only arise when there is a breach of contract…particularly when a member of staff refuses a legitimate request to prioritise student education on return to work after a strike."

However, Leeds staff and alumni are not reassured by Sir Alan's email.

The Tab spoke to former Leeds student Liz Morrish, who has withdrawn her financial support to the University and is urging others to do the same unless the vice-chancellor changes his stance.

She said, "Staff can be penalised if they fail to fulfil a 'legitimate' management instruction to prioritise the replacement of lost teaching. But this is a world where any management instruction is deemed 'legitimate'.

"There is an atmosphere of intimidation and coercion. I know what it is like to be victimised in that atmosphere, and it renders any sense of academic freedom – the very essence of a university – impossible."

The alumni behind @SadLeedsAlumni, a Twitter page representing the outrage of former Leeds students, told The Tab:

"The VC has packaged up the same message in a more moderate tone, but the threat remains the same.

"This stubborn position does nothing for students, as external examiners are resigning at every turn in response to it, and is making Leeds look increasingly like a pariah institution."

'Casualised' staff, such as lecturers who are paid hourly, were not included in the vice-chancellor's email, which has caused further outrage.

One staff member found the vice-chancellor's response so disappointing that it actually pushed him towards strike action.

The Leeds UCU has called the University's stance on ASOS "nasty but legal" and Leeds staff are continuing to strike this week after rejecting an agreement to end strike action.

Featured image courtesy of Nick Efford via Flickr