Branch Statement on 2022 Marking Boycott

What is the dispute about?

There are two ongoing disputes – on the cuts to pensions, and on the general degradation of pay and conditions in universities (the “Four Fights” of pay, inequality, casualisation and workload).

We are asking the employer to provide public statements on the national disputes which will contribute to a successful conclusion of them. We are also asking them to back this up with sufficient local improvements and mitigations to demonstrate their long-term commitment to fair pay, pensions and conditions nationally.

Cardiff University could be a vocal and influential leader amongst the employers in the national disputes, in order to end them on terms which are fair to workers – so far it has not done so.

 Why a marking boycott?

In the past we have tried less disruptive forms of industrial action – open letters, working to contract, short strikes, protests – without this resulting in our employer standing by our rights in the national disputes.

Unfortunately, as the national pay and pensions situation remains poor, with many employees facing a further 6% real-terms loss of pay on top of a real-term 20% salary decrease since 2009, we must escalate the dispute further with more disruptive forms of action.

The nature of industrial action is that it must be disruptive or threaten to be disruptive to be effective. We are always open to discuss solutions with university management which may avoid this disruption, if members feel satisfied that these solutions are sufficiently adequate to address the long-term problems we are facing.

 Can a marking boycott be avoided?

We are open to negotiate with university management solutions that can avoid this disruption. In the past, they have refused our requests, including that of making a joint public statement in support of protecting our USS pensions. So far, 25% of institutions have made such statements, but Cardiff is not one of them.  Details of our local demands can be found here.

Any meaningful proposal made by senior management towards meeting our demands would then be put to the branch membership for a decision, which would take about a week to allow internal discussion and votes to be collected. There is therefore still time for an acceptable offer to be put and voted on before the marking boycott begins, if senior management treat it with sufficient urgency.

Similarly, with the effects of a marking boycott being cumulative, it would be possible with slightly less urgency shown to bring it to a close after it started but before the timing of graduation was affected.

We have no interest in carrying on a marking boycott one day more than necessary – but until an offer is accepted, it is necessary.

What can students do?

It is obviously in students’ interests that the dispute be ended – at least locally – as soon as possible. Cardiff UCU’s negotiators are ready to meet as often as necessary with senior management to agree a deal; Cardiff UCU’s members are ready to vote on that deal once it is agreed, and to end the marking boycott if it is accepted.

It is up to senior management to urgently discuss with us what they are prepared to do to meet the demands of our members. Students can contact the Vice-Chancellor and other University Executive members to encourage them to do this.

Postgraduate students are also eligible to join UCU (for free) and make clear that they will not take senior management’s side by marking work in place of staff taking action.

 What other information is available?

We are hoping that the VC will negotiate with us on our local demands to prevent the boycott, and we will request that these negotiations are open to staff for transparency. The following links will provide some additional information and context for the wider dispute.