Universities warned of further sanctions if they dock staff pay in assessment boycott

As the assessment and marking boycott starts UCU has written to the 69 affected universities and warned of even greater sanctions if they dock full pay from the staff involved.

The letter, sent by UCU’s head of bargaining, Michael MacNeil, warns institutions that if they take a confrontational approach to pay docking they will ‘only serve to exacerbate and prolong what is already a bitter dispute’ and ’cause long-lasting and deep-seated harm to industrial relations at your institution.’

UCU said that as well as a backlash from angry staff it would isolate the worst culprits as pariahs within the global academic community through a full academic boycott. The full academic boycott is the union’s ultimate sanction and has been used just once before in the union’s history. The last time the union undertook an assessment and marking boycott was in 2006.

So far only the University of York has said it will be levying 100% pay deductions from day one of the dispute. UCU said there are clear splits on the employers’ side with Imperial College proposing to deduct just 25% from staff engaged in the boycott and many other institutions taking care to reserve their right to deduct rather than setting out that intention.

UCU general secretary, Sally Hunt, said:

‘Docking 100% of pay from staff who are continuing to perform the vast majority of their duties is completely unethical and risks causing greater damage to students’ education. Punitive pay docking could lead to lectures and seminars being cancelled as members refuse to work for free. Any institution docking full pay and claiming it has students’ interests at heart is lying.’

Read the full new release here.