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UCU comment on 2014-15 pay negotiations

The University and College Union (UCU) and its sister trade unions met with the Universities and Colleges' Employers Association (UCEA) yesterday (26th March) in a formal meeting to discuss the pay claim for 2014-15.  The employers did not make an offer but did agree to bring forward the next meeting to Tuesday, 15 April 2014.

UCU Head of Bargaining, Michael MacNeil, said: "Since we last sat down with the employers to formally discuss pay there have been six strikes by university staff –three full day ones and three two hour stoppages – and we have announced plans for a marking boycott.  It is clear that students want a fair and speedy resolution to this dispute, and UCU is continuing to work hard to achieve this before our marking boycott begins on 28 April. 

"Yesterday the employers did at least recognise that the falling value of staff pay is a real issue, but they did not make an offer at the meeting. We welcome the fact that UCEA have agreed to bring forward the next meeting to 15 April, as this gives them one more chance to make a fair offer before the marking boycott begins. ”


Manchester Students' Union is calling on Nancy Rothwell to resolve the dispute with a positive outcome for all by backing back fair pay in her role as Manchester University’s representative in the University & College Employers’ Association (UCEA, which controls the employers’ side of any negotiations).


You can help support the campaign to protect both students and staff by getting signing this online petition and sharing it with your course mates, department and friends:


What is a marking boycott?

From Monday April 28th academic staff represented by the University College Union (UCU) will not mark or give feedback on examined and non-examined work until the dispute is resolved.  Administrative staff and other staff will also refuse to handle any marking. Many staff outside UCU may continue to mark, which means that some modules you may receive feedback and others you won’t.


Why is this happening?

Academic, administration and other University staff across the UK are campaigning for fair pay – against the worst pay cut in almost any profession since World War 2, against a sexist pay gap that means women are earning less than men, and for all University workers to get the Living Wage. They have tried to negotiate, and when that didn’t work they went on strike a number of times through the past year. University managers have refused to respond reasonably, instead reacting aggressively and victimising staff that are simply standing up for their rights and for education. The employers have therefore left the staff with no choice but to threaten a marking boycott if their bosses won’t come to the table and agree to a fair deal. The goal is to secure a positive resolution with regards to pay, instead of management refusing to listen.


Can the university afford fair pay?

Yes, the University of Manchester has a huge surplus which it is currently choosing to invest in capital projects and estates over staff pay and welfare. We believe, however, that the University should prioritise the wellbeing of its staff and students by standing up for fair pay.


What’s in it for students?

Resolving the dispute in favour of fair pay will stop the boycott affecting us as students. It is also the right thing to do – the people who make our education happen should be treated decently. And fair pay is good for students. As students, our education suffers when our staff are stressed, demoralised and even impoverished.  Damage is done to our universities when talented workers are forced to consider leaving education, and when women’s voices are shut out of academia. Better pay means better education, and more solid support for staff means a quicker and fairer end to the dispute.


What can we do as students?

We’ve created an online petition with the UCU branch in Manchester – please sign it and share it with your course mates, department and friends. You can find it at

Your support and solidarity is really important to staff so please let your tutors, lecturers and other staff know you’re backing them. Also, why not ask to do an announcement about the campaign at the beginning of your lecture or seminar and direct students to the petition?


If the employers hold out and the boycott goes ahead, how will I be affected?

There could be delays in obtaining your marks for any assessments taking place after Monday 28th April. Depending on how long the employers drag out the dispute, graduations and release of marks could be delayed - this could delay applications to jobs or further study. However the dispute is across the country, so you should not be at a particular disadvantage compared to other UK students. It’s important to remember that these short-term effects pale in comparison to the long-term harm being done to the education system that we are trying to stop.


I’m a postgraduate teaching assistant, what can I do?

PGTAs are (under)paid on the same wage scale as the other staff, so you will benefit directly if this campaign wins. You are eligible to join the UCU trade union and take part in the action. UCU membership is cheap if you are on low pay, and the trade union can defend you as you take action and answer any questions about exactly how to implement the boycott. The Students’ Union is urging you to join and fully participate in the marking boycott if it goes ahead. In particular, please don’t agree to do any marking work that has been boycotted by other staff – doing this directly undermines your colleagues and ultimately the whole campaign.


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