Unison action over pay targets Uni of Leeds results day

Days 40 to 42 of strike action by Unison members at University of Leeds, as part of the national pay dispute, targeted the inputting of marks at the university in the run up to the release of students results on Thursday 13th June.

Iain Dalton, Leeds Socialist Party

Combined with the ongoing marking and assessment boycott being undertaken by UCU members across the country, this has resulted in the process becoming chaotic.

As one student reported to us “Leeds uni have released exam grades/degree results for students graduating, but due to poor communication (and of course many students not actually having their work marked), some students have been told they can’t graduate, many are graduating without classifications, and many have been given marks that have been made up (I.e. not based on actual results), or not representative of their actual performance (due to being marked by people outside their field). It’s pandemonium”

This could have been avoided by the employers body UCEA returning to meaningful negotiations over pay with Unison, UCU and other higher education unions to resolve the dispute.

But additionally locally Unison members were prepared to discuss how their dispute could be settled, attending five emergency meetings in a week ahead of the action. At these meetings they put a number of suggestions of measures which could be taken locally that they could reasonably put to Unison members, including additional days leave, a one of cost of living payment (as had been unilaterally imposed last year by the university) alongside putting staff up a pay band.

After suggesting this would be considered, university management then made an offer which was watered down to just some extra leave days at Christmas – far from any meaningful attempt to address the pay situation.

It is this failure to meaningfully negotiate by university management’s across the country as well as at Leeds that is resulting in the situations facing students with many existing sympathy with staff and blaming management for their predicament.

As shown during the recent UCU strike action over deductions, this position is being driven by the Vice-Chancellor Simone Buitendijk, who is opposed to UCEA even returning negotiations. Union branches across the university have been discussing moving no confidence in her, with overwhelming support for doing so so far.

From Socialist Party members visits to the picket line, it’s clear the momentum is with university workers. On the first day of the strike we met a long-term university worker who had not only signed up to join Unison but was picketing for the first time ever that day. With support growing amongst university workers Unison members are discussing when to come back out in August if the dispute is not resolved.

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