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Marking boycott gets the go ahead

Academic staff will boycott marking coursework and exams in an escalation of their dispute over pay if employers don’t engage in negotiations, the University and Colleges Union (UCU) has announced.

UCU has given the University and Colleges Employers Association (UCEA), the body which represents SOAS and other university employers, until April 28th to engage in negotiations over pay to avoid the boycott.

The action could affect the graduation of final year students and the progression of students in other years.

If the boycott goes ahead it would be the first time UCU had called for such action since 2006. The union says higher education staff pay has been cut by 13% in real terms since 2008 and are asking employers for a pay increase above the 1% currently being offered. Higher education unions have taken industrial action on six occasions this academic year as part of this dispute including three whole day strikes which led to almost all classes and lecturers being cancelled.

A spokesperson for UCEA said “All HE institutions are consistently clear that there is no scope for further pay increases beyond those already paid last year, and all are united in their commitment to protect students’ education.”

The leader of UCU, Sally Hunt said “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.”

SOAS Students’ Union has so far strongly supported staff’s industrial action, however, at the Emergency General Meeting, which gave initial backing to staff, some concerns were raised about a potential marking boycott and its impact on students.




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