Ongoing Industrial Action including Marking and Assessment Boycott

Email to all staff from Professor Simone Buitendijk, Vice-Chancellor and President, on 24 April.

Dear colleagues,

I wrote to you on 6 March regarding the conclusion of the national negotiations on this year’s pay awards and on the pay uplift of 5% to 8% which takes place from 1 February and 1 August 2023. In the meantime, we continue to make progress at an institutional level, namely on the non-pay elements of negotiations such as through our work on replacement of fixed term contracts with ongoing contracts. I will write to you separately with a fuller update on the progress on actions across the four UCU heads of claim – pay, equality, casualisation and workload. We agreed those with our campus unions colleagues last year and we have been working constructively with them on the implementation. 

I am writing today following the University and College Union (UCU) call to its members to continue with Action Short of Strike including a Marking and Assessment Boycott, commencing from 20 April.   

Industrial action is always difficult and disruptive to our staff and student community. I know and very much appreciate the widespread commitment of colleagues to continue to protect the education of our students and the integrity of their awards. As we do not know which employees are UCU members or who may choose to participate in the action, I must write to all staff to ensure those who participate know what is expected of them and to provide the University’s approach to guide staff through this challenging period.

We know that many colleagues who are union members do not take part in industrial action.  During the latest period of action between 1 February to 30 March 2023 on most strike days fewer than 5% of staff declared that they had participated in strike action.

The following information is only directly relevant for staff who are intending to take part in industrial action.

The next term is critical for progressing and graduating our students and as a community we must continue to do all we can to ensure that this takes place as smoothly as possible. The University recognises that trade union members have a right to take industrial action. However, days of strike action will result in the withholding of pay. The University has previously advised staff of its approach to pay-deductions for Action Short of a Strike (ASOS), which rejects the notion of partial performance. That means 100% of pay (at a rate of 1/365th of pro rata annual salary per day) will be withheld where a member of staff refuses to undertake delivery of required educational activity, including marking and assessment. More information about the marking and assessment process, including deadlines for marks to be submitted, will be provided via Heads of Schools in due course.  

At the time of writing, the recognised commitment of staff to supporting student education during the industrial action period 1 February to 30 March 2023 and the prioritisation and delivery of agreed educational activities has resulted in no deductions having to be made in relation to action short of strike action.   

For colleagues wishing to fully understand the UCU’s ongoing dispute further information is available on the Universities & Colleges Employers Association (UCEA) website. 

We will also be sharing relevant information about the forthcoming industrial action with students and Postgraduate researchers later this week. This will be available on our For Staff news pages.

With thanks and best wishes,

Professor Simone Buitendijk
Vice-Chancellor and President