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Breaking: UCU Announces 5 Days of Strikes and Withdraws Marking Boycott

Photo by Magnus Hagdorn / Flickr

The Universities and Colleges Union (UCU) has today announced five consecutive days of strikes beginning Monday, 25 September. The union also announced it was withdrawing its Marking and Assessment Boycott (MAB).

The announcement comes after a consultation in which 60% of UCU members voted to end the MAB, which has seen delays in students receiving degrees, as well as incomplete marks.

However, the KCL branch of the UCU announced just hours later that the MAB would be continuing at KCL as part of a local dispute.

KCL UCU is seeking an increase in the London Weighting Allowance from £4,200 to £6,000. The Allowance is the amount KCL lecturers are payed above the nationally agreed wages in order to make up for the additional costs of living in London.

They are also seeking equalised paid parental leave of 26 weeks for paternity and maternity. Currently, paid leave is 18 weeks maternity and only 2 weeks paternity.

KCL UCU Branch President, Ewan McGauchey, said:

“It’s vital that we reach agreement so that no marking and assessment boycott continues. KCL has had nearly 6 months, but unfortunately we only received offers in late July, to begin the negotiation process. A final meeting on London Weighting is today [September 7]. We’ve made real progress, but not there yet.”

Other forms of industrial action – including working to contract, not covering for absent colleagues, and not rescheduling lectures or classes cancelled due to strike action – will continue nationally.

Additionally, the UCU has announced its plans to reballot in October which, if sucessful, would give them a mandate to continue industrial action for a further six months. This could include anything from missed lectures to a return of this year’s Marking and Assessment Boycott.

UCU General Secretary, Jo Grady, said:

“We have sought to settle this dispute at every opportunity, including agreeing to a joint review of sector finances, but we are faced with employers that want to see staff and students suffer. We desperately hope vice-chancellors realise we are going nowhere without a fair settlement and make us a realistic offer. If they do not, campuses will be marred by picket lines during fresher’s week, and we will launch a new strike ballot allowing us to take action well into 2024.”

In response, the Universities and Colleges Employers Associations (UCEA), which represents universities in the ongoing dispute over pay and conditions, said:

“UCEA welcomes the vote by UCU members to end the marking and assessment boycott. The result, with 60% voting to stop the boycott, suggests that UCU members no longer wish to support the HEC’s tactic of inflicting harm on students. There is now an urgency for UCU members who had participated in the boycott to prioritise marking for those remaining students who have still not recieved the necessary results to graduate in 2023 – 2024.”

The most recent offer from the UCEA suggested pay rises of 5-8% for workers, depending on their pay band, an offer below inflation.

To read more about the industrial action, click here.

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