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The Friday email: 21 April 2023

21 April 2023

UCU Rising: marking and assessment boycott in pay and working conditions dispute

This week we commenced a national marking and assessment boycott (MAB) in our pay and working conditions dispute and general secretary Jo Grady wrote to members yesterday setting out the union's plan to build this crucial part of the UCU Rising campaign and to fight back against threats of punitive salary deductions. UCU calls on all members in higher education institutions which are part of the pay and working conditions dispute to now cease undertaking all summative marking and assessment activities including exam invigilation and the processing of marks. 

It is vital that we all now play our part in this phase of the industrial action in order to apply maximum pressure on the employers to make a renewed offer on pay and conditions. Your local branch, regional office and the national union are here to assist members and we have developed a comprehensive plan to support you:

  • a dedicated web area including answers to all your FAQs
  • training and support for your local reps with weekly online organising meetings
  • a downloadable MAB guide and training video
  • building our fighting fund to support members and appealing for donations from sister unions, national and international groups, as well as UCU members who are not part of the MAB
  • tools containing template letters that you and your students can use to write to your VC and local MPs, as well as customisable materials for placing content in local papers and media (to be released on Monday 24 April)
  • social media campaign and resources targeting institutions which are attacking our members including naming and shaming university vice-chancellors
  • mapping university management responses with a sector-wide online reporting system.

No education professional takes industrial action lightly but it is already clear from some of the outrageous threats being made by some VCs that the MAB is one of the most effective tools we have. Please get behind the action and support your colleagues. 

UCU Rising: USS pensions dispute update

In the USS pensions dispute specifically, UCU formally withdrew all forms of action short of a strike (ASOS) including marking and assessment boycott (MAB). We were told it was impossible to win back a stolen pension, but this week UCU members have proven that it can be done. Members should be proud of what we have achieved and in getting us this far.

The union will now move forward the proposals with employers to restore the on average 35% cut to members' guaranteed retirement benefits. And thanks to our renewed mandate from the USS re-ballot, we have retained the right to take action if Universities UK (UUK) and employers backtrack on their commitments.

Respect FE: update on pay negotiations

UCU and other unions representing further education (FE) staff in England met with the employers' representatives Association of Colleges (AoC) this week for the first pay negotiating meeting for 2023/24. The unions pressed the AoC on our joint claim and to address stagnating pay, excessive workloads and the other issues facing FE workers, but disappointingly employers failed to make any meaningful offer whatsoever.

Please continue to sign and share our charter for professional respect for college staff and support our Respect FE campaign.

Havant and South Downs College: strike action

UCU members at Havant and South Downs College (HSDC) will be taking two further days of strike action on Tuesday 25 and Thursday 27 April 2023 in their ongoing dispute on pay, following their well supported action in February. NEU members at HSDC will strike on the same days. NEU and UCU are working in partnership to win fair pay after a decade of below inflation pay increases at the college. Please send messages of solidarity to the branch. 

UCU LGBT+ research conference 2023

The 2023 UCU LGBT+ research conference will be held as a hybrid event on Friday 19 May at the University of Manchester. This is an open event; delegates do not have to be UCU members. However, if the in-person places are over-subscribed, UCU members will be given priority access. To register please follow the link to the online form.

Scottish Funding Council and indicative university funding allocations

Last week, the Scottish Funding Council made announcements on the indicative funding allocations for universities for the academic year 2023/24. You can click here to read the response from Mary Senior, UCU Scotland official.

Political fund: right to give a withdrawal notice

A notice to members in Great Britain who joined UCU on or after 1 March 2018 is issued today in respect of the union's political fund. More information about the political fund can be found here

Last updated: 21 April 2023