TENSIONS are still running high at the University of Warwick after fresh protests erupted on the Coventry campus.
Warwick For Free Education staged their latest protest in ‘celebration’ of their university’s Vice Chancellor’s latest £16,000 pay rise – his third increase in nine years, which brings his current salary to £348,000.
The rally took place on Thursday, January 15.
Protesters claim this is the day professor Nigel Thrift would have, in 2015, already earned the same amount as the lowest-paid worker at the university earns in a whole year.
Speaking to Observer reporter Lauren Clarke at the demo, protesters described his salary as ‘obscene and disgusting’ – particularly amid claims that some postgraduate teaching assistants are paid less than the minimum wage on unsecure, zero-hour contracts.
In jovial fashion, the group met for a ‘Pay Day Party’ outside the Student’s Union building – getting their message across with large banners, balloons and renditions of ABBA’s famous hit ‘Money, Money, Money’.
Accompanied by chants of “348K, Nigel Thrift go away,” the group moved to University House – the home of Prof Thrift’s office – where security staff denied the students access to the building.
Peter Dunn, Director of Press and Policy at Warwick, said that as one of the top ten universities in the UK an appropriate salary has to be paid to those who helped and continue to keep Warwick in that position.
He added: “It should be noted that the Vice Chancellor actually took a voluntary pay freeze in 2014 – the third such voluntary pay freeze since he joined Warwick and is also a significant voluntary donor to the University.
“You look at any league tables out there of Vice Chancellor salaries in terms of pay increases and pay scale, you’ll find he’s outside the top ten – so he’s actually fantastic value for money.
“I’m afraid these people just don’t listen.”
But, in a post by Warwick Student’s Union President, Cat Turhan, she argues that while university Vice Chancellors across the country defer issues of their salaries to independent ‘remuneration committees’, it isn’t fair to say that they have no influence over these committees’ decision making whatsoever.
Miss Turhan added: “Vice Chancellors could, of course, always acknowledge or refuse any pay increment in times of upheaval out of basic decency – but they don’t.”
A confrontation with security at University House ended peacefully but with the building was put into a security lockdown. 03.015.003.cov.jm4
Protesters march towards University House. 03.015.003.cov.jm2