The University and Colleges Union (UCU) has today threatened to cease marking students’ work as their row with universities across the country continues.
If carried out, essays and exams will not be marked by any staff belonging to the union from the 28th April. This move is the highest sanction that can be delivered by the union and has the potential to cause enormous disruption as scripts remain unmarked. The situation could even lead to students not being able to progress or graduate as their course marks would be unknown.
This dispute is over a 1% pay rise earlier this year, which the unions feel is inadequate given the much reported 13% real terms cut in wages since 2008. This follows three days of full strike action and three two hour strikes all since the beginning of this academic year. The last time that the marking freeze was used was in 2006, which led to an above inflation pay offer for the unions, such was the disruption caused.
Sally Hunt, General Secretary of UCU said:
A marking boycott is the ultimate sanction, but an avoidable one if the employers would negotiate with us over pay.
No member I have spoken to wishes to see this dispute escalate, but in the continued absence of meaningful negotiations from the employers, we are left with no alternative.
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. Even now the timetable we have set provides a generous window of opportunity for the employers to address our just demands, which we, and students, hope they take.
The University has yet to respond to this threat from the national UCU leadership. It is also as yet unclear if the Southampton branches will carry out this threat from the national leadership.