Give docked pay to students in need
Dear Professor Webley , We, the SOAS community, were surprised and dismayed to discover that this year the pay docked from our staff during industrial action will not be donated to the students' hardship fund, as we used to and as many other universities do as standard. Contrary to what many of us believed, this policy has not been in action since 2008. We are asking you to reinstate this policy at SOAS, starting with the pay docked during the strike on 31st October 2013. We feel it is both unethical and unnecessary for management to use docked pay to further their own agenda, particularly when those on strike are calling on management to support their need for a decent wage. Strike action is neither controlled nor planned for by SOAS' finance department, and as such the money which would have been paid towards wages on this day is already accounted for by the school. The docked pay is thus surplus to and separate from the school's budget. Given that the action on 31st October is over pay, it is hugely significant that a large percentage of our staff have chosen to forgo their pay at a time when they are in desperate need of a better wage. For the management to view this as a gain in monetary terms does a huge disrespect to our staff and students who have come together as a community to sacrifice a day of work or a day of education for a goal that we all recognise as legitimate and fair. Strike action impacts primarily on the education and services received by students, and although students choose to stand in solidarity with staff, it is only right that the school use this money to compensate in some way for the necessary action our staff have to take in order to receive decent pay. Putting the docked pay into the student hardship fund which has a positive, direct impact on the lives of students is the decent and honourable thing to do. It is a policy we should have at SOAS and one that SOAS should be proud of.