By Charlie Kimber
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University strikers resist punitive pay deductions by no-mark bosses

A round-up of strikes and marches by university and college workers across Britain
Issue 2858
University strikers at Soas hold pink signs reading on strike today UCU and proud

UCU union members at Soas university in central London struck against pay deductions last month (Picture: Guy Smallman)

University workers from the east of Scotland to the south coast of England are striking and marching as part of a patchwork of fierce resistance.

The actions show the determination to keep fighting over pay and other issues, but the UCU union leaders are not coordinating a fightback.

Most of the strikes are against punitive pay deductions for workers who are implementing a marking and assessment boycott (Mab).

College bosses deduct up to 100 percent of pay for those taking part in the Mab, even if they continue to teach, lecture and support students as normal. It’s wage theft.

The boycott is the latest phase of a long-running battle over pay, equalities, contracts and conditions.

In March UCU successfully renewed its mandate under the anti-union laws to allow strikes and other action for a further six months at 145 universities.

Brighton university workers, students and their supporters are set to march on Saturday against plans to make 110 staff redundant.

The university wants to ram through £17.9 million of cuts. Yet it has spent over £50m on building projects in the last two years.

Recently university workers and students voted they had no confidence in vice-chancellor Debra Humphris’ leadership.

Mark Abel, chair of the Brighton UCU branch, said, “This overwhelming vote clearly demonstrates that staff have no faith in the direction the current vice-chancellor is taking the university.”

A group of students has been occupying the vice-chancellor’s office in support of the battle against job cuts. Brighton UCU members are also set to strike from 19-23 June over pay deductions.

  • March against mass job cuts in Brighton, Sat 10 June, 11am, The Level


Workers at Soas university in central London continue their strikes in the face of employer threats and intimidation. Bosses have chosen to deduct 100 percent of wages from Mab participants or anyone that refuses to declare an intention to mark.

Soas is also withholding pension payments to these workers so that the total deduction amounts to effectively 120 percent. UCU members have already struck for six days over the issue and were set to strike from Monday to Thursday.

  • Winchester university UCU members were set to continue a programme of strikes this week.
  • Bristol university UCU members are set to strike on Open Day, 16 June.
  • Workers at Queen Mary university in London are set for six days of strikes from 16 June.
  • Edinburgh university UCU is also starting strikes. The branch committee says strikes are set for 16 June and 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 18, 19, 20, 21 and 22 September.
  • Liverpool Hope university UCU members have voted to accept an offer to reduce deductions from 50 percent to 35 percent—still far too much. This means that planned strikes have been suspended.
  • Over 1,800 staff at the University of Leeds plan an indefinite strike from 15 June after management confirmed it will be deducting all the pay of staff who join the Mab. Leeds university has over half a billion pounds in the bank, but attacks its workers.
  • UCU members at Sheffield Hallam have held five strike after the university began deducting 100 percent of the pay of staff involved in Mab. That’s despite staff continuing to teach, lecture and support students as normal.
  • Liverpool John Moores University workers are scheduled to strike on 16 June—an open day for students—and then other dates. They have given notice of eight strike days including induction week in September. Donate to the strike fund at

Dundee university UCU members struck on Wednesday of last week over pay deductions. Carlo Morelli, co-president of Dundee UCU, told Socialist Worker, “People are joining the union over this. They want to see a serious fight. And many students are backing us, despite the turmoil over their assessment.”

Exam boards—that ratify marks and grades—have now ended in Scotland. In some cases universities have awarded degrees provisionally based on previous work. Actual grades will come out when marks are eventually declared. In other cases, such as law courses, regulatory bodies won’t accept that. Universities are left hoping to ratify degrees at some point in the future.

The chaos underlines that the Mab can have an effect, but needs to be backed by strikes. Otherwise workers can be left isolated as ruthless managers target their pay.

College workers walk out across north of England

Staff at Manchester College and UCEN Manchester continued 12 days of planned strikes over pay this week Management is offering just a 2.7 percent pay uplift.

Over 100 staff at Tyne Coast College plan strikes over pay on Monday and Wednesday this week.

And staff at Leeds City, Harrogate, Kirklees and Bradford colleges scheduled strikes for four days over pay on Monday and Wednesday this week and next week.

The UCU said college leaders only have themselves to blame if strikes disrupt crucial GCSE maths and English exams.

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