Coventry becoming a ‘pariah university’

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Sheffield University students turned out in force last week to support their striking lecturers
Sheffield University students turned out in force last week to support their striking lecturers

COVENTRY University is in danger of becoming a ‘pariah institution’ lecturers union the UCU warned yesterday. The union launched a campaign against the university’s ‘anti-union dirty tricks’ and has threatened an ‘academic boycott’.

Coventry university has set up a subsidiary company within the university, exploiting a legal loophole allowing it to pay staff lower wages and deny them their basic rights at work. To make matters worse Coventry University have gone on to create a sham trade union to ‘represent the staff’, a real attack on the UCU union and the working class as a whole.

The UCU union has just completed 14 days of nationwide strike action to defend lecturers’ pensions.

Two universities, Queen Mary’s University in east London, and King’s College on the Strand in central London are actually out on strike today, as they started the nationwide strike two days later than the other 60 plus universities, therefore they are doing two extra days of strike to complete their 14 days.

The UCU union’s warning to Coventry University calls for an academic boycott ‘if bosses do not stop their underhand tactics.’ The union said an academic boycott was its most serious act of censure.

It would see UCU members refuse to do things like attend conferences, apply for jobs, give lectures or act as external examiners for Coventry University.

UCU general secretary Sally Hunt said: ‘Universities are not covering themselves in glory at the moment but these dirty tricks by Coventry University represent a new low for the sector. Coventry is going to get a reputation as a pariah institution if it does not abandon this shameful approach to its staff.

‘Coventry University and Coventry University Group must scrap the sham union and recognise UCU in accordance with staff wishes. Failure to do so could see UCU members stop applying for jobs, lecturing or collaborating on research projects at the university.’

Meanwhile, Tory universities minister Sam Gyimah issued a statement yesterday warning the UCU about the threat of a further 14 days of strike action during the exam period. On this issue Sally Hunt, said: ‘We share the minister’s concerns about disruption to students’ education and want to resolve this dispute as soon as possible.

‘However, we are clear that the only way this dispute will be sorted is with the employers presenting an improved offer. ‘We have an incredibly strong mandate for 14 days of more strikes that will impact on the exam and assessment period. ‘We know that students do not want universities to try and implement contingency plans to mitigate the impact of action – they want this dispute to be sorted. ‘The most effective way to avoid further disruption is for the employers to come back to the table with a better offer.’