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The Friday email: 19 May 2023

19 May 2023

UCU Rising: piling on the pressure in the MAB

This week members in higher education continued the marking and assessment boycott (MAB) in the pay and conditions dispute. Whilst employers have pleaded poverty and refused to negotiate, our latest analysis has shown that the sector is bringing in a record income. You can find out the specific figures for your institution here.

Our escalation strategy remains in place for branches facing punitive deductions and is working to move employers. This week Regent House, the governing body of Cambridge University, rejected proposals by the administration to water down the standards that apply to university examinations and management is now encouraging UCEA to return to negotiations.

Strike action notices have been served on eight employers over punitive deductions and UCU members in the following branches need your support as they are out on the picket lines next week:

  • SOAS on strike on Wednesday 24, Thursday 25 & Friday 26 May. Join Jo Grady, John McDonnell MP and Amerit Rait for the strike rally on Wednesday at Torrington Square, WC1E 7HX
  • University of Winchester on strike on Wednesday 24 & Thursday 25 May
  • Sheffield Hallam University on strike on Thursday 25 May & Friday 26 May.

The NEC has agreed that salary sharing within and between branches should be the main method of supporting members facing deductions. Please get in touch with your local reps to find out more information about your local hardship fund. Nationally we are also supporting members through the fighting fund. In addition to the £250,000 initially ring fenced, we have also put £750,000 into the fund this month and will continue to do so for the duration of the MAB up to £3 million. UK officers have also agreed from 1 May to increase the number of days that members can claim from the fighting fund for strike action or 100% deductions to 20 days.

Media coverage of our dispute continues to grow this week with our general secretary Jo Grady appearing on LBC, the UK's biggest commercial radio station, for a phone-in with the general public. We witnessed the level of support for our members with not a single negative comment made about the MAB and students showing their support for their staff. Our story on the sector's bumper finances was picked up by Times Higher Education and our action was covered on Sky News, Express, Times, Telegraph and the BBC.  

Respect FE: fair pay for college staff

With no new pay offer on the table for FE staff (England) despite talks with the employer representatives at the Association of Colleges (AoC), the union is now gearing up to launch a major campaign in support of our 2023/24 claim and you can read details of the plan agreed by UCU's further education committee (FEC) here. UCU college branches are currently fighting low pay and attacks on jobs and conditions including:

Find out more about our Respect FE campaign here.

Emergency protest: protect the right to strike, Monday 22 May, London

On Monday the Strikes Bill goes through its final stages and as MPs cast their votes the TUC has called an emergency protest outside Parliament. The proposed legislation would make it possible to sack key workers who take industrial action to improve pay and conditions. Join the protest at 18:00 on Monday evening at Parliament Square, London, SW1P 3JX.

Cradle to Grave conference, 17 June

Have you registered for the Cradle to Grave conference? Our online conference 'A vision for education: the way forward for the post-16 education sector', will take place on Saturday 17 June 2023. We will discuss a shared vision for post-16 education in these challenging times. Keynote speaker: John McDonnell MP.

Reclaiming our education system webinar, Tuesday 23 May 19:00

UCU president Janet Farrar will address a webinar on Tuesday evening titled 'Reclaiming our education system' and you can register here. The online event is hosted by the Socialist Campaign Group and other speakers include NEU general secretary, Daniel Kebede and Ian Mearns MP.

UCU fighting disability discrimination

You can read details of UCU's recent successful legal action on behalf of a member who experienced age and disability discrimination as a member of university staff. More here.

Last updated: 22 May 2023