UCU marking boycott cancelled

first_imgThe University and College Union (UCU) has agreed to suspend a marking and assessment boycott while it enters into negotiations over pensions with Universities UK (UUK).UCU members voted in favour of industrial action after changes were made to Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS). On November 6th, UCU members stopped marking work, returning marks and setting exams and coursework.The assessment and marking boycott affected over 1.2m students. Such action is suspended until after a joint negotiating committee meeting in January 2015.In a joint statement, the UCU and UUK said, “Both parties are committed to seeking a joint proposal for reform that offers an affordable, sustainable and attractive pension scheme, for both current and future members.“Both parties are pleased that the agreement to suspend industrial action at this early stage will mean that students will not have been adversely affected and members of staff will not have had pay deducted.”Margaret Watson and Terry Hoad, respectively the curent and the former Oxford UCU Presidents, told Cherwell, “Oxford UCU is very pleased that negotiations between the Union and the employers are taking place and that in the meantime the Union has felt able to suspend the industrial action. Our members find it painfully hard to take action which threatens the academic progress of students. “It is important to understand the causes that lie behind the dispute. University salaries are not very high, in comparison with those which many university staff might earn in other occupations, and have been declining in real terms over a good many years. The assurance of a decent pension is one of the things that have in the past made staff willing to accept those less than stellar salaries.”Under the UUK’s proposed changes to the current pension scheme for university staff, a 40 year old professor who joins the scheme at 25 and retires at 66 on a salary of £75,000 stands to lose £230,251.A PPE student from Trinity remarked, “Although I respect the lecturers’ right to strike, I feel strike action ultimately affects students the worst, and with tuition fees at £9,000 we are hardly the guilty party here. I’m very happy that UCU have decided against such a course of action for now.”Other students were less than elated by the news. One stressed English finalist commented, “I’m not going to lie, I rather hoped there would be a marking boycott. Anything to give me more time on my thesis!”Watson and Hoad continued, “The fight to defend pensions remains a crucial one. We hope that through negotiations in the next few weeks agreement will be reached on acceptable adjustments to pension arrangements.“However, we have suspended but not called off the industrial action, and if the employers do not prove by 15 January that they are willing to come to an appropriate agreement with us, we will have to resume it.”last_img

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