An open letter to Nigel Thrift in support of staff action, 3/12/13

The Context

On the 3rd of December, 2013, university staff belonging to the University and Colleges Union (UCU), Unison and Unite will go out on strike in protest at a proposed pay settlement put forward by the University and Colleges Employers Association (UCEA), an organisation that represents universities in the UK. The UCEA are proposing a pay increase of just 1% for both academic and non-academic staff. Although on paper the 1% increase is a pay rise, in practice, because it is below inflation, the agreement will cut the value of staff wages.

The extent to which this pay dispute affects all of us amounts to far more than a day of missed lectures or a disrupted workplace. In recent years student fees have risen sharply; at the same time, the money the university spends on the staff supporting students has fallen. The increasing price of education and the decreasing availability of jobs are driving students to prioritise what they perceive to be in their immediate interest. In fact the interests of students and staff cannot be separated. In order to protect the quality of the university, its research and the experience of students, we must recognise that an investment in staff is an investment in students.

We invite people to sign the letter below by clicking ‘leave a comment/reply’. (If you have comments or queries about the open letter please make them here – any comments or queries made below the letter will be moved to this page, where they can be addressed by PPU and visitors to this blog.)

The Letter

Dear Professor Thrift,

We are writing to express our concern at the proposed 1% pay increase for staff at the University of Warwick. This figure is below the rate of inflation and so represents a reduction in the value of wages paid by the university.[1] We understand that this below-inflation pay deal continues a trend in the HE sector that has seen a real terms wage decrease of 13% for university workers in the past four years.[2] This devaluation of staff has taken place in a period in which the percentage of HE sector spending on teaching staff has shrunk from 58% to 55%.[3] Finally, we observe that by 2012 the University of Warwick had accumulated a surplus of £31m.[4] This suggests that the current pay settlement is neither necessary nor inevitable.

As you will be aware, the vast majority of students on taught courses at this university are expected to pay for their study. You will also be aware that the amount incoming students are expected to pay has recently risen dramatically. We are dismayed that at a time in which the university is charging more than ever before for education, it is decreasing the amount that it pays for educators and the staff that support them. An investment in staff is an investment in students.

We support union members in their demand for a fair pay settlement. We hold the University of Warwick and the UCEA responsible for the loss of earnings and contact time that will result from industrial action on the 3rd of December. We are angered that students are put in a position where they must either forego valuable contact time, or cross a picket line of their staff and peers.

We urge the university to recognise the damage its current actions are doing to itself and those that depend upon it, to respect its students and staff, and to find a pay solution that demonstrates its recognition of its primary function in society. Finally, given your position as Vice-Chancellor of this university, and given that you yourself have recently benefited from a pay increase of £42000, we urge you personally to bring your influence to bear on resolving this iniquitous situation in a fair and timely manner.[5]

Yours sincerely,

The undersigned


2. Ibid.
5. Ibid.

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135 Responses to An open letter to Nigel Thrift in support of staff action, 3/12/13

  1. Ruth says:

    Ruth Pearce

  2. Billy Barrett says:

    Billy Barrett

  3. Anna says:

    Anna Grinevich (Undergraduate, University of Warwick)

  4. Susie says:

    Susannah Sillett

  5. Kate Orlandi-Fantini says:

    Kate Orlandi-Fantini

  6. Callum Cant says:

    Callum Cant

  7. Rosa Parker-Hinton says:

    Rosa Parker-Hinton

  8. Robert King says:

    Robert King

  9. Helena forrester says:

    Helena Forrester

  10. Chris Blewitt says:

    Chris Blewitt

  11. Dan Goss says:

    Dan Goss

  12. Victor Weber says:

    Victor Weber

  13. Carla says:

    Carla Sarrouy

  14. luke galloway says:

    Luke Peter galloway, Undergraduate, University of Warwick

  15. Matthew liston-jones says:

    Matthew Liston-Jones

  16. Anna Rivers says:

    Anna Rivers

  17. Alexandra Morris says:

    Alexandra Morris

  18. Charlotte says:

    Charlotte Thomas

  19. Madeleine Hodgson says:

    Madeleine Hodgson, MChem graduate, University of Warwick, 2012.

  20. Caitlin Burns says:

    Caitlin Burns

  21. Nicola Williams says:

    Nicola Williams

  22. Graham Wetherall says:

    Graham Wetherall

  23. Lewis Smith says:

    Lewis Smith

  24. dexter bushell says:

    Dexter Bushell

  25. Katja Rebmann says:

    Katja Rebmann

  26. Sophia says:

    Sophia Yacoub

  27. Michael Haddad says:

    Michael Haddad

  28. Robbie Foulston says:

    Robbie Foulston

  29. JV says:

    Jonathon Vaughan

  30. Helen McNamara says:

    Helen McNamara

  31. Alex Biancardi says:

    Alex Biancardi

  32. Simon Walker says:

    Simon Walker

  33. Anna Richardson says:

    Anna Richardson

  34. Sam Parr says:

    Sam Parr

  35. Vedita Cowaloosur says:

    Vedita Cowaloosur

  36. Thomas Waterton says:

    Thomas Waterton

  37. Andrew Russell says:

    Andrew Russell

  38. Reva says:

    Reva Yunus

  39. Susannah Phillipson says:

    Susannah Phillipson

  40. megiraudo says:

    Maria Eugenia Giraudo

  41. Hannah Seaman says:

    Hannah Seaman

  42. CLH says:

    Christopher Hashemi

  43. Georgia Gildea says:

    Georgia Gildea

  44. Maggie Leung says:

    Maggie Leung

  45. Chris Oates says:

    Chris Oates. There needs to be a mechanism to hold management responsible – a good start would be to have student and staff voices on Thrift’s pay and remuneration committee. The VC is supposed to be a high moral figure for the university – how Thrift can perform this important job whilst pocketing 300k plus expenses is a joke.

  46. Matt Pressland says:

    Matt Pressland

  47. Alex says:

    Alex Johnston

  48. George Kafka says:

    George Kafka

  49. Lewis Defrates says:

    Lewis Defrates

  50. Sophie Blyth-Bristow says:

    Sophie Blyth-Bristow

  51. Hanna Wheatley says:

    Hanna Wheatley

  52. Thomas Grimes says:

    Thomas Grimes

  53. Jack Ross says:

    Jack Ross

  54. migmatos2905 says:

    Miguel Costa Matos
    Undergraduate Social Sciences Faculty Representative

  55. Oskar says:

    Oskar Grzebalski

  56. Alizée Moreau says:

    Alizée Moreau

  57. Sophie Monk says:

    Sophie Monk

  58. Alix says:

    Alix Villanueva

  59. Zoë says:

    Zoë Duffy

  60. Nat Shiers says:


  61. Rachel Warren says:

    Rachel Warren

  62. Isobel Finn says:

    Isobel Finn

  63. Laura Kurlansky says:

    Laura Kurlansky

  64. James Baross says:

    James Baross

  65. Mike Niblett says:

    Mike Niblett

  66. Laurie Whittaker says:

    Laurie Whittaker

  67. Connor Schwartz says:

    Connor Schwartz

  68. Kieran Lucas says:

    Kieran Lucas

  69. Andrew Turner says:

    Andrew Turner

  70. Ella Raven says:

    Eloise Raven

  71. Polly Gregson says:

    Polly Gregson

  72. Jack Hazeldine says:

    Jack Hazeldine (Alumni)

  73. Lisa Tilley says:

    Lisa Tilley

  74. Jamie Sims says:

    Jamie Sims

  75. Rickie Galloway says:

    Rickie Galloway

  76. Thomas Kiley says:

    Thomas Kiley

  77. Ellice Stevens says:

    Ellice Stevens, BA English and Theatre

  78. James Handy says:

    James Handy

  79. Paul Smart says:

    Paul Smart

  80. Ellen Moser says:

    Ellen Moser, UG finalist

  81. marijn says:

    marijn nieuwenhuis

  82. Joseph Parker says:

    Joseph Parker

  83. Hari says:

    Hari Mackinnon

  84. Rebecca Williams says:

    Rebecca Williams

  85. Mark says:

    mark carrigan

  86. Nicholas Collins says:

    Nicholas Collins

  87. Wai Ming Loh says:

    Wai Ming Loh.

  88. Katie Caddick says:

    Katie Caddick

  89. Nick Lawrence says:

    Nick Lawrence

  90. Daniel Ellin says:

    Dan Ellin

  91. Alex Cooper says:

    Alex Cooper

  92. Matthew Dennis (PhD student, Department of Philosophy)

  93. interdisciplinarydialogues says:

    Emilie Taylor-Brown

  94. Grace says:

    Grace Hunt

  95. Stephen Soanes says:

    Stephen Soanes

  96. Hilary Williams says:

    Hilary Williams

  97. Gaja Maestri says:

    Gaja Maestri

  98. Jemima Johnson says:

    Jemima Johnson

  99. Sarah Jane Bodell says:

    S J Bodell

  100. Robert Fine, Emeritus Professor of Sociology

  101. Amy Mackrill says:

    Amy Mackrill

  102. Kate Applebaum says:

    Kate Applebaum

  103. John Halpin says:

    John Halpin

  104. ReginaGChester says:

    George Chester

  105. Joseph Doherty-Bailey says:

    Joseph Doherty-Bailey

  106. Jessica Hubbard says:

    Jessica Hubbard

  107. Collin Lieberg says:

    Collin Lieberg

  108. Anne Moeller says:

    Anne Möller

  109. Edanur Yazici says:

    Edanur Yazici

  110. Santiago Oyarzabal says:

    Santiago Oyarzabal

  111. Kirsty says:

    Kirsty Lohman

  112. Jamie Mackay says:

    Jamie Mackay

  113. Mulan says:

    Mulan Hegedus

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