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The Friday email: 5 May 2023

5 May 2023

UCU Rising: support the MAB

UCU members in higher education have continued the marking and assessment boycott (MAB) in the pay and conditions dispute. Employers in most universities have disgracefully responded to this legal industrial action by threatening punitive pay deductions of up to 100%.

The union is working directly with branches where deductions have been threatened to implement our escalation strategy which includes applying pressure through campaigning, negotiation and, where required, strike action. This has achieved results, with employers from the University of the West of England to the University of Hertfordshire backing down from threats of 100% deductions. 

We are also supporting members financially, with the union agreeing to ringfence £250,000 for members facing deductions for taking part in action short of strike. Further information about this fund will be shared in the coming days. You can support these members by donating to the fighting fund here

UCU members will not back down to threats and the MAB continues to go from strength to strength, with employers losing more support by the day. 

Members from across the union and supporters are encouraged to use our online tools to directly contact VCs and MPs, share the letter to UCEA signed by over 50 MPs and peers, and donate to the fighting fund

Respect FE: strike action at FE colleges across England

Staff at Bradford College began strike action on Thursday 4 May and will strike for an additional 13 days across May and June in their dispute over low pay and working conditions. Click here for the full set of strike dates. The dispute centres on a pay award for 2022/23 of only £1,160, which is worth just 3.2% for many lecturers. GCSEs will be hit but there is still time for the employer to make an improved offer to avert industrial action.

Staff at City College Norwich were on strike on Friday 5 May in a strike over low pay. They will also be on strike on Tuesday 9 May and are demanding that management urgently raise pay to meet the cost of living crisis. Staff have already taken two days of strike action this year after the college imposed a pay award so low it ended the college's accreditation as a Real Living Wage employer.

Meanwhile, Kirklees College members will be striking on Tuesday 9 and Wednesday 10 May, and Monday 5 and Wednesday 7 June. Their dispute is concerned with an imposed 1% consolidated pay award for 2022/23 and an imposed 2.5% consolidated pay award, plus a move in scales at the top of the pay bands for lecturers and scarce skills lecturers, for 2023/24. Again GCSEs will be impacted.

The Sheffield College has been served notice of three strike dates on Wednesday 17, Friday 19 and Wednesday 24 May. These strike dates will affect GCSE maths and English exams. The strikes follow a rejection by members of a £100 unconsolidated lump sum payment to settle a 2022/23 pay dispute where members received just a 2.5% pay increase despite soaring inflation.

Staff at Barnet and Southgate College will strike on Friday 19 May, Monday 5 June and Wednesday 7 June hitting exams. Staff have already taken three days of strike action in the long-running dispute after college bosses imposed pay awards of just 1% for 2021/22 and 1% for 2020/21. The college has now imposed a further pitiful pay award of just 2.5% for 2022/23.

Barnsley College have a statutory ballot for industrial action over a 2% pay offer for 2022/23 which started on Friday 5 May and will close on Monday 12 June.

UCU slammed North Kent College principal David Gleed for accepting a £20k rise (2021/22), worth 12.5%, even though his staff have endured ten years without any increase. 

Imperial College UCU won renewed industrial action mandate

Imperial College London UCU have won a renewed mandate in their local pay and working conditions dispute with members roundly rejecting management's attempts to close negotiations. Members will be embarking on a marking and assessment boycott (MAB) and are considering taking further strike days in conjunction with UNISON and Unite whose members have also rejected the offer.

MRC units open meeting, 11 May

Staff-side unions are organising an open meeting for staff working in Medical Research Council (MRC) units who have been impacted by the recent decision to change their funding methodology. Members have expressed their concern at MRC's failure to consult with those affected and adhere to established trade union consultation processes.

The meeting will take place on Thursday 11 May 13:00-14:00 on Zoom. Union members and non-members are welcome and can register for the meeting here. We want to use the meeting to bring affected staff together, agree ways to challenge the failure to consult, and re-establish processes for meaningful consultation.

Cradle to Grave conference, 17 June

We are delighted to announce that the rescheduled Cradle to Grave conference 'A vision for education: the way forward for the post-16 education sector', will take place on Saturday 17 June, 10:30-15:30. Come along to our online conference and meet fellow practitioners, policymakers, and politicians as we discuss a shared vision for post-16 education in these challenging times. Click here for the programme and registration (registration open until Wednesday 14 June).

Worker Protection Bill and workplace sexual harassment

As part of the TUC-led ThisIsNotWorking alliance, UCU has written to Secretary of State for Business and Trade Kemi Badenoch MP, urging the government not to abandon essential legislation on workplace sexual harassment. Please write to your MP and tell them to support the Worker Protection Bill, which is in danger of falling, and ensure protections for women from sexual harassment.

Campaigning for outstanding bus services

A national conference is taking place on Saturday 17 June, 'Campaigning for outstanding bus services', which UCU is supporting. Our privatised bus services are failing us: unreliable and infrequent services, high fares, even more cuts threatened, thereby increasing inequality. The conference will discuss how we can build effective campaigns locally and nationally by sharing experiences from around the UK. Registration is now open for this hybrid event; you can attend on either Zoom (free) or in person in York (£5).

Last updated: 5 May 2023