Upcoming Strike Action in Response to Punitive Deductions

This letter was sent 25/May/2023. It is available in PDF form.

Dear Members of the University Executive Board,

We hope this letter finds you well. We understand that you have now received notice that we are organising strike action in response to your punitive deductions to the Marking and Assessment boycott.

Specifically we have resolved:

  • To call 5 strike days during our graduation week 17-21 July 2023. https://www.cardiff.ac.uk/graduation/graduation-2023
  • To call additional strike days (14-18 August) to coincide with confirmation and clearing, including Clearing Open Day.
  • To call strike days during Welcome week 25-29 September 2023.

We will call these off if we deem that Cardiff University HR have withdrawn their policy of punitive deductions or our dispute on pay and conditions draws to an end.

These actions will be undertaken by Cardiff UCU locally in response to your continued implementation of a policy response to the UCU Marking and Assessment Boycott that we have previously indicated to you in correspondence that we consider to be punitive. This decision was not taken lightly but reflects the great sense of outrage by our members. It is the direct results of a motion brought by our members that was passed at a quorate Extraordinary General Meeting on 28 April 2023, which was subsequently approved by the UCU Higher Education Officers.

While we understand the disruptive nature of strike actions, we feel compelled to take this step as it appears to be the only recourse left to us.

We now call on the University Executive Board to negotiate with us around the threatened pay deductions with a view to avoiding the proposed strikes.

We deeply value a harmonious relationship between the university administration and its employees. It is therefore with a sense of responsibility that we offer a potential resolution. To be clear, we are willing to stand down the announced strike dates if the University Executive Board withdraws their threats of punitive deductions and takes steps to reverse any punitive deductions that may have already been made by the time the decision to reverse is made.

Contrary to your announcement to students, our actions are not a national issue – it is in response to decisions at Cardiff University specifically, which it is within your power to rectify.

We consider punitive deductions as pay deductions that are not proportionate to the amount of work being boycotted. We maintain that Cardiff’s response of deduction 100% of pay and claiming that further work done by staff is ‘voluntary’ and may (or may not) yield a 50% discretionary payment is punitive. Other universities have announced deductions that are far lower and that more accurately reflect the workload that marking represents. The Open University, for example, is deducting 20% while Hertford, Ulster and Queen Margaret have decided against making deductions altogether. There are reports of other universities that are quietly deciding against making deductions. It is clear that Cardiff University is making a choice that it does not have to be making: one that is designed to hurt its own staff.

We know that the successful operation of a university relies on the collective efforts and goodwill of its staff.  We hope that through open dialogue and understanding, we can find a resolution that can be mutually beneficial to all parties.

We sincerely hope that the University Executive Board will consider our proposal and engage in constructive discussions about making an immediate reversal of the punitive pay deduction policy.

Thank you for your attention to this matter. We look forward to your prompt response and a positive resolution to our shared challenges.

Yours sincerely,

Cardiff UCU