Email to Sue Midha, Colin Riordan and UEB regarding MAB deductions policies

This email was sent on the 22nd of June. We received a reply on the 23rd.

Dear Sue, Colin, and UEB,

We appreciate the time you took to meet with us this morning. It was good to hear that we do agree on many things, and share many concerns about the future of the sector. 

We are disappointed that Cardiff University does not seem prepared to follow the example of a growing number of institutions in making a joint statement calling on UCEA to restart negotiations with UCU. Restarting negotiations is the best way to end the Marking and Assessment Boycott.

We acknowledge that Cardiff is refusing partial performance with 100% deductions reduced to 50% for voluntary work carried out. Thank you for clarifying that deductions for April and May will come out the June pay packet. We would appreciate if you could send clear communication to staff on this as a matter of urgency. 

We understand that you are currently focused on the single task of getting papers marked and that you see any changes to pay deductions as contrary to that single goal as it would potentially encourage our members to continue with the boycott. We would encourage you to think more holistically about the institution and also to take the future of staff, industrial relations, goodwill, academic standards, and reputation into account.  

We understood that at the present time you are not prepared to move on the policy of deductions. This means we cannot recommend to our members that we call off the upcoming strike days. 

We do believe that some minor changes to your approach could, however, benefit staff and demonstrate goodwill: 

  • Staff with salary being deducted should be informed of the dates for which their salary is being deducted on an individual basis as soon as possible.  
  • Clarity around Exam Board attendance for all staff. The questions in the FAQ around vivasindicate that prep and attendance is the only point affected. You indicated that for staff not attending Exam Boards, that one day of pay would be at 50% deduction. Please add this the FAQ (it currently appears only in the ‘question’ and not the answer).

Here are further changes to the implementation of your policy of deductions that we would like to see. These would result in us recommending to our members that the branch call off our upcoming strike action and media campaign: 

  1. Move towards a more proportional approach to deductions. We were happy to hear about the proportionality in deductions applied to attendance at meetings and PhD vivas. 
  2. Clarity around when deductions will end and a more realistic, consistent approach to the duration of the deductions. We would suggest they be limited to 10 working days (in line with policies at KCL, Lincoln, Bristol). 
  3. Start deductions from the marking deadline rather than date of marking assignment email (in line with Swansea, LSE, Goldsmiths) – the current start date is student submission deadline, which is not when marking is usually done.  
  4. Spread future deductions over a longer period such as 6 months. 
  5. Exclude weekends from deductions. ASOS deductions on non-working days are not appropriate or reflective of contracted working hours. 
  6. Not deduct payment from staff who refuse to mark work from colleagues. They will already have full workloads and the request undermines collegiality. Colleagues who did not have marking assigned as part of their workload are not in breach of contact for not doing it. 

We are willing to call a members’ vote on calling off strike days in response to any changes to the current deductions policy that move towards the proposals above. 

In the absence of written confirmation of material changes to your approach to implementing the deductions, we will continue to prepare for the upcoming strike days.


Cardiff UCU