Farewell to MAB (for now?)

Five days of strikes will end the current mandate for industrial action - and UCU have agreed to UCEA's proposal for a joint review of sector finances.

David Kernohan is Deputy Editor of Wonkhe

The marking and assessment boycott – which has affected the progression and continuation of an unknown number of students across the sector this year – has ended as of today.

Some 60 per cent of members who responded to the informal poll conducted by the union were in favour of suspending the action. The union has written to employers formally withdrawing the boycott, though other forms of action short of a strike will remain in place until the mandate ends on 30 September. The decision will result in staff being asked to complete outstanding markets – at Cambridge, for instance, staff who complete all marking by the end of 30 September will see all pay deductions returned, whereas a general deadline of 14 October has been set.

The University and College Union (UCU) has elected to end the current mandate for industrial action with five days of strike action, running in most of the 140 providers involved between Monday 25 to Friday 29 September – around the start of term for many (though not all) of those involved. Details of a ballot for a new mandate will be announced “shortly”.

The union has also agreed to the proposal put forward by UCEA back in June for a joint review of sector finances. This was initially suggested as an independent, expert, review to inform future New JNCHES negotiation rounds.

UCEA has responded, welcoming the end of the MAB but expressing “disappointment” regarding the strike action. It also welcome UCU’s acceptance of proposals for facilitated talks  to develop the joint review of sector finances, and the resumption of talks on pay-related matters alongside other unions.

A letter from UCU chief executive Jo Grady to UCEA has been published.

6 responses to “Farewell to MAB (for now?)

  1. I am yet to see anyone explain the purpose of the 5 days of strikes in the final week of September, just before the mandate for action expires and in full knowledge that the action since April has comprehensively failed. What is the point? That’s a full week’s pay lost for seemingly no explainable reason other than a weak protest.

  2. But I don’t think that the gradyite faction support it – I’ve seen them literally saying this on twitter. Is there *any* justification for it?

  3. @Naysayer, Higher Education Committee (HEC) are the ones who make the decision to call strike days, not Jo Grady. HEC are not always particularly representative of the whole union….

  4. Yes – I mean the Gradyites (ucu commons, who are mostly former grady4gs and if not former grady4gs they’re certainly mostly sympathetic to her line) who currently have a majority on HEC. I’m seeing a lot of chat on twitter that the Gradyites agreed to the strike as a compromise with the ucu left/hardline-strikehappy-but-not-ucu-left people on HEC in order to drop the MAB. But this is no way to run a strategy is it, and it remains that the strike is basically inexplicable.

  5. Agreed that the strike days are inexplicable. I also think they’re actually quite unethical. Industrial action which disrupts student learning is justifiable in the service of specific goals related to pay, working conditions etc. However, the current action seems to be purely about demonstrating the strength and determination of the union. Some would argue that this will lead to concrete gains indirectly, e.g. by putting the employer on the backfoot for the next round of industrial action. But I find this tenuous as I think the strike days look like an act of desperation. This has led me to question my involvement in the union, and I suspect it will do so for many other more moderate members.

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