By Joe Harston
This morning, a joint statement from the Durham branch of the University and College Union (UCU) and the Durham University Executive Committee announced that the University has agreed to pause deductions for members partaking in the Marking and Assessment Boycott (MAB), effective from 1st July.
This means that no further deductions will take place for members who have already partaken in the MAB.
As a result, Durham UCU has agreed to cease further strike action planned for September at Durham University, since this was initially called due to the level of deductions imposed on members taking part in the MAB, and will not seek authorisation of any further local strike action during the period of this mandate, which ends on the 30th September. Other industrial action, such as the MAB will remain in place. While there is no official end date given for this, the mandate for action lasts until September, with around 16% of academic staff participating at Durham according to the University.
The joint statement also disclosed that there is understanding on both sides that the MAB has ‘caused and continues to cause disruption for our students’ and that ‘returning all outstanding marks to our students once an end is called to the MAB remains our highest priority’.
However, it is clear that issues currently being negotiated between UCEA and the UCU should continue to remain on a national table, rather than being agreed locally, with the statement going on to read that, ‘everyone involved in these negotiations at Durham University accepts that this will not be resolved at a local level’ and that ‘the meetings taking place between UCEA and UCU are welcome’.
In a letter to all staff this morning regarding the joint statement, Vice Chancellor Professor Karen O’Brien said, “I hope I speak for all parties when I say this is a welcome development. I’d like to extend my thanks to UCU’s regional branch, in particular Regional Support Official, Jon Bryan, for attending this meeting and for his assistance in facilitating this agreement.
“My colleagues in the Executive and I remain fully committed to making improvements where we can at a local level.
“We are exploring further work we can undertake locally on the pay spine, as well as tackling issues around workload, gender pay gap and employment.”
Image: Emily Doughty