Meeting to be held for students concerned over marking boycott

boycottA MEETING is to be held for students concerned about the marking boycott planned for April.

The University and College Union (UCU) Higher Education Committee gave the green light for the boycott  in February (due to commence on April 28th) to protest disputes in pay.

Last year, UCU, Unison and Unite rejected the 1% pay rise offered to staff by employers, insisting that it equated to a 13% pay cut in real terms since October 2008. Meanwhile, vice-chancellors received wage increases averaging over 5%, with some said to now be receiving well over £350,000. Members of UCU will be taking the boycott action this April unless the situation is resolved before then.

Many students have expressed their fears over the boycott; especially final year students who are likely to be badly affected if this boycott goes ahead, as their final semester modules (including dissertations and exams) could possibly be unmarked. This potentially means that they will be unable to officially graduate in the summer.

In response to this, the Union released a statement leading to a meeting which has been organised for students, which is to take place tomorrow at 6pm in the Picture House in the Union. Dr Martin Wilding, President of UCU Aberystwyth, is to be present at the event to give a talk on the current state of the dispute.

In a letter to union members, UCU’s General Secretary, Sally Hunt, stated that by setting the April date for the boycott they have “provided a window of opportunity for the employers to address our just demands” in the forthcoming ten week period.

Hunt said: “A marking boycott is the ultimate sanction, but an avoidable one if the employers would negotiate with us over pay…no member I have spoken to wishes to see this dispute escalate, but in the continued absence of meaningful negotiations from the employers, we are left with no alternative.

“I fail to see how any university can claim to have students’ best interests at heart if it is not pushing for talks with the union to resolve this dispute.

“Employers cannot plead poverty when it comes to staff pay and then award enormous rises to a handful at the top.”