UCL-UCU: EGM Reminder & Update on UCL’s position on deductions for MAB

27 April 2023

This is a quick reminder of our Emergency General Meeting today, 1-2pm, including an update on UCL’s position on MAB deductions and the motions for debate

This is a quick reminder of our Emergency General Meeting today, 1-2pm, to discuss possible strike action to contest UCL’s plan for MAB deductions. The motions for discussion can be seen in the appendix below.

Update on UCL’s position on MAB deductions

Yesterday, UCL UCU branch reps attended an Extraordinary JCNC called by UCL to discuss our formal Letter to the Provost challenging UCL's proposed approach to making pay deductions for participation in the Marking and Assessment Boycott (MAB).

  • UCL has not committed to changing its approach but have agreed to review their approach.

  • In the meantime, UCL has agreed to defer their deadline for reporting participation (which was set at tomorrow, Friday 28 April) for two weeks.

  • In the meeting, UCL also agreed that no deductions will be made that would cause hourly pay to fall below the London Living Wage (currently £11.95 an hour). This issues affects all staff below point 34, including PGTAs, research assistants and some Associate Lecturer (Teaching) staff on Grade 7.

This is only a small movement from a position that places UCL currently at one extreme end of employer threats of deductions. But this, and agreement to continue discussions over the next two weeks, is still positive, and reflects the fact that, despite the threats, across UCL many staff are saying they will carry out the boycott.

UCL UCU Executive




Appendix - Motions for discussion at Branch Meeting 27 April 2023

Motion 1: Strike action

UCL UCU notes:

  1. The decision by UCL management to impose a flat rate deduction amounting to half pay for 70 or more days (i.e. at least 10% of annual salary) on every member of staff participating in the Marking and Assessment Boycott (MAB) - with the threat of higher deductions if the dispute continues into July.

  2. That this flat rate applies regardless of whether a colleague was due to mark 1 essay in June or 200 essays in April. The same rate applies for one-off assessments such as PhD vivas.

  3. That marking and assessment do not make up 50% of the work of colleagues’ workload who are engaged in marking and assessment during this period.

  4. That by contrast most universities have said they will make deductions based on due dates of submission of marks.

  5. The UCL undergraduate exam board period is 15-23 June.

UCL UCU believes:

  1. UCL’s decision on deductions is deliberately punitive, disproportionate, and designed to maximise the pressure on colleagues to not take part in industrial action (the MAB).

  2. That members' rights to take part in ASOS, now and in the future, are under threat.

  3. This threat must be confronted first and foremost with an escalated industrial response, because legal challenges can take years.

  4. Our core focus must be to win the dispute and protect our members.

  5. An escalation of this kind by an employer must be met with an effective industrial escalation on our part.

UCL UCU resolves:

  1. To plan strike action that targets the undergraduate Exam Board period (15-23 June 2023).

  2. To call on HE officers to trigger the formal employer-notification process outlined in our motion to Special HE Sector Conference, HE5. This notifies the employer for strike action over a long period but then allows the branch to stand down action according to how the employer responds.

  3. To monitor UCL’s response and adjust strike action dates, if necessary, to be effective.

  4. To call on all exam board chairs, deputy chairs, and participants to not reschedule exam boards.

  5. To also consider other dates of strike action depending on the employer's response.

  6. That our strike action threat will only be withdrawn if UCL withdraws its threat of punitive deductions.


Motion 2 - Organising to defend the right to participate in the MAB

UCL UCU notes:

  1. The extraordinarily disproportionate threat of deductions announced by UCL last week, amounting to half pay for every day of the boycott.

  2. That UCL's central strike recording database was negotiated with UCU for strike action deductions on the basis that deductions were lawful, and that this data would be used only for processing deductions and not shared with others.

  3. UCL's stated intention to share this data with Heads of Department, i.e. to use it for attempting to engage in working around the MAB and taking marking work off participants. This is a form of strike-breaking.

  4. That there is a serious risk that a list of staff participating in industrial action, whether held at departmental or central level, becomes an unlawful Blacklist.

  5. That these actions of UCL are a threat to every single member of staff at UCL, and will act as a precedent for future disputes

UCL UCU resolves:

  1. To call on members not to submit data to UCL HR's central strike recording database.

  2. To remind members that there is no obligation on them to report any intention to participate in the MAB to anyone, including their Head of Department, before the work is due.

  3. To call on Heads of Department and departmental managers to not harass staff about their participation.

  4. To call on Heads of Department and departmental managers to decline to participate in strike-breaking.

  5. To ask every member who is unable to participate in the Boycott to set aside a donation of half a day's pay for every week of the MAB, and to sign up for the branch Solidarity Pledge scheme.

  6. To call branch online informal MAB organising and solidarity meetings at least twice a week during the boycott.