by Liam Cassidy
The assessment boycott affecting 69 universities across the UK has been put on hold until 15 January. A joint statement has been released by the University and Colleges Union (UCU) and Universities UK (UUK) that establishes a postponement period between 20 November and the next meeting date of the Joint Negotiating Committee in January.
The agreement to postpone the assessment boycott comes after universities agreed not to dock the pay of participating staff, who in return have agreed to catch up on marking they missed. During this period, UCU and UUK state that they hope to “close the differences between the negotiating positions, with a view to reaching agreement on reforms” to UCU members’ pensions scheme that is under threat.
Ten universities had threatened a 100% dock in pay for staff participating in the boycott, while many others had threatened 25%.
A statement from a UUK spokesperson stated, “both parties are committed to seeking a joint proposal for reform that offers an affordable, sustainable and attractive pension scheme”.
A motion to extend solidarity to participating staff at Queen’s failed at last week’s Student Council on Tuesday 18 November. Last year, Student Council agreed to extend solidarity to UCU members taking part in industrial action over fair wages.
Both sides will be keen to resolve the dispute upon meeting again in January and avoid disruption to the busy exam period. This postponement period will allow them to test the waters with proposals and counter-proposals with the aim of achieving resolution that satisfies all involved.