• Sun. Jul 14th, 2024

The Gaudie: UCEA chair, UoA principal wanted staff to ‘feel pain along the way’ in UCU boycott

ByLucy Frewin

Jul 6, 2023
Professor George Boyne backed by the snowy, gothic campus of the University of Aberdeen. A message bubble reading "Nothing deducted until the end of June? I'd prefer pain along the way - we can return the money if they change their mind and do the marking." is above his head.Professor George Boyne, who makes over £260K per year, said boycotting staff should feel "pain"

An investigation by The Gaudie has revealed that UCEA chair and University of Aberdeen principal George Boyne said staff boycotting marking work should feel “pain” from pay deductions.

In a series of messages, Boyne, who makes over £260,000 per year, described the marking and assessment boycott as a “horrendous infliction of misery” on students and called for an “immediate withdrawal of pay” from staff.

UCEA, the Universities and Colleges Employers Association, is responsible for representing universities in negotiations with trade unions and education stakeholders.

UCU Scotland president Mary Senior told The Student: “It’s deeply disappointing to see university bosses wanting to punish staff for participating in legitimate action short of a strike, and that inflicting this ‘pain’ on staff is more important than trying to get a resolution to the dispute”.

READ MORE: University of Edinburgh to withhold 50 per cent of pay from staff taking part in marking and assessment boycott

“Workers do not take industrial action lightly, and losing a disproportionate amount of pay for action short of strike during a cost-of-living crisis is hitting university workers hard.

“If this is the perspective of those responsible for leading the university employers in this dispute, its unsurprising that we’ve made so little headway in getting to a resolution to date.”

The University and College Union (UCU) marking and assessment boycott has been in place since 20 April. 

Universities including the University of Edinburgh and the University of Aberdeen have taken the decision to withhold 50 per cent of pay from staff taking part.

University of Aberdeen UCU expressed their disappointment with Boyne’s comments to The Gaudie, saying: “The extreme callousness of these remarks lays bare George Boyne’s contempt for the staff who make up this University.

“The Gaudie has exposed the ugly truth behind UCEA’s obstinate refusal to negotiate. George Boyne is trying to grind staff into submission.

“He may find that he has succeeded only in rousing their anger and strengthening their resolve”.

A spokesperson for the University of Aberdeen defended Boyne’s comments to The Gaudie, stating: “Throughout the marking and assessment boycott the University remained strongly focused on protecting the interests of our students to ensure that all those due to graduate could do so, and with a classified degree”. 

The statement continued: “Professor Boyne acknowledges that the language used in this short and private WhatsApp message was unfortunate”.

Professor George Boyne 2022” is in the public domain. “Kings College University of Aberdeen” by Tom Watt is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.