Strike Action announced during graduation week
The EUCU announces strike action during graduation as a reaction against pay deductions, reports Editor-in-Chief, Jamie Speka.
On Thursday the 13th of July, the local UCU branch announced that strike action will take place during graduation week. University of Exeter UCU branch (EUCU) President, Dr Alex Prichard, states in a letter to Exeposé that “this action is specifically in relation to the punitive, unfair, disproportionate and unjust deductions policy the university has imposed in response to the Marking and Assessment Boycott.”
EUCU alleges that following the Marking and Assessment Boycott, the University imposed 50% pay reductions for partial performance despite staff continuing to work full-time. Dr Prichard explains that the Union has proposed alternative policies, but HR is refusing to engage. The University press office has denied Dr Prichard’s claims. EUCU cites this as the key issue with “some of our members facing up to 50 days of pay deductions, for, in some cases, as little as failing to mark a handful of scripts.”
EUCU alleges that following the Marking and Assessment Boycott the University imposed 50% pay reductions for partial performance while the staff continues to work full-time.
The strike action will take place on the 17th, 19th, 21st and 24th of July. During the week, EUCU plans on engagement events during graduation to help parents and students “understand the dire state of UK higher education funding”.
EUCU’s move comes after a joint statement put out by the University and Exeter UCU to progress further discussions and actions on demands, as a way to end the stalemate that is “not beneficial for our community”. The two encourage the national UCU and UCEA (Universities and Colleges Employers Association) to work towards ending the current impasse that has an ongoing impact on students. Dr Prichard believes that the “spirit of collegiality and collaboration that has got us this far is at risk of being permanently damaged by the University’s intransigence on 50% pay deductions”.
Deputy Vice-Chancellor Tim Quine writes in an email sent to all students that the campus will remain open and will ensure support as well as access services regardless of picket lines. The University has been working closely with the EUCU to allocate a designated area where “those taking strike action can safely demonstrate without it impacting the experience of those of you who are graduating this Summer.”
Students who are graduating feel this to be an “anti-climactic” and “awkward” graduation period. One student notes “this isn’t really the graduation or university experience that we were sold on open day” and believes that “it once again feels that students are being put last and our investment in an education, one of time and money, means very little.”
As students prepare for graduation week, some students feel that “there’s an awkward atmosphere to it as we all have friends and course-mates who are waiting on dissertations or other large pieces of work and we have to pretend that there isn’t a huge undermining of our degrees hanging in the air.”