Published on February 21, 2014 | by Katherine Jackson

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University tutors threaten ‘marking boycott’

Protest poster outside the LCC

UCU plans to stage a marking boycott from April 28 [Francis Wilmer]

Universities risk a “marking boycott” if pay disputes are not resolved between themselves and their staff members within the next two months.

University and College Union (UCU) publicly announced intentions to stage a boycott from April 28 unless universities agree to negotiate a pay rise for staff, and stated that it would be the first boycott enforced since 2006.

However, they are willing to reconsider the boycott if talks between universities and the Colleges Employers Association are to continue.

According to UCU, a pay rise of one per cent has been offered, which they say would mean a pay cut of 13 per cent since 2009.

Salaries

Meanwhile, vice chancellors of higher education institutions are currently earning annual salaries as high as £250,000, and have been awarded an average five per cent pay rise in the past year.

UCU’s General Secretary Sally Hunt said of the decision: “I fail to see how any university can claim to have students’ best interests at heart if it is not pushing for talks with the union to resolve this dispute.

“The strong support for our action so far demonstrates how angry staff are at the hypocrisy over pay in our universities. The employers cannot plead poverty when it comes to staff pay and then award enormous rises to a handful at the top,” added Hunt.

Support

The boycott could affect everything from exams and coursework being marked, to feedback on the year’s work.

Melissa Cross, a third year UAL Graphic Design student, said that she fully supports the decision to boycott, despite the effect that it may have on her receiving her results later this year.

“It makes me really angry that there is such a wide disparity between the chancellors’ and the lecturer’s salaries. Universities should always strive to be fair and I think more equal pay amongst staff should definitely be supported. Teaching is one of the hardest and most challenging professions in this country and that deserves to be recognised and awarded accordingly,” stated Cross.

The union are calling the boycott the “ultimate sanction” for the refusal to negotiate a pay increase, and hope that the threat of student’s being unable to graduate will be enough to encourage change.

 

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