Update on MAB response, and Call for nominations to join Branch Committee AGM 7 June

Dear Kingston UCU Members,

Thank you for your support throughout the year and in our current marking and assessment boycott (MAB). We write to you with an update on this current action, what we’re doing locally, and how you can respond to requests for MAB participation. We also hope to see you all at our Annual General Meeting at 3:00pm on 07 June 2023.

Please see all details below, and join us on Slack to stay informed and support Kingston UCU.

Kingston UCU MAB Response

Branch Committee have been contacted by members across KU expressing serious concerns regarding their treatment by line managers and other senior members of staff. Last week we wrote to our Senior Leadership Team (SLT) and Human Resources (HR), outlining our concerns regarding their behaviour, restating the Union’s position in support of its members, and requiring that the University meet with us to discuss how best to resolve these issues.

As UCU members, you are not obligated to declare your future intentions regarding participation in the MAB. Members are free to enter (or leave) the MAB at any point after 20 April 2023, and should only state honestly what actions they have taken in the past, if asked directly by HR or a line manager. If you would be marking to a deadline for return of marks, for example, then this would be the date the Union considers that you would enter the MAB. Up until this point, an agreement could have potentially been reached in our ongoing negotiations, and the MAB ended, thus providing members the natural opportunity to complete and return all marking and assessments.

Requests for staff to declare any future intentions specifically regarding MAB participation are viewed as intrusive and intimidatory, and where it appears that our members are being singled out, this has the potential to constitute discrimination against a trade union member – an issue that we take extremely seriously.

We therefore advise you to respond to requests for declarations of intent ahead of any deadlines, or similar requests / assurances regarding meeting marking deadlines, with the following:

I/We are aware that the Kingston UCU branch committee has on Friday 12 May 2023, written to the SLT & HR requesting a meeting to address the issues raised in your request and other issues relating to industrial action. I/We support Kingston UCU in expressing concerns over the behaviour of management towards staff, which in many cases is causing stress and anxiety, and is counterproductive towards the long-term sustainability of a fair and collegiate working environment. 

I/ We therefore have decided that any further response to you will come as a result of the meeting between Kingston UCU and SLT. Kingston UCU branch committee represents its members through lawful, democratic decision making processes and actions. I/We ask that you respect their collective authority and refrain from requesting further declarations of intent at this time.

MAB Support

Kingston UCU are holding daily support meetings on Zoom, Monday to Friday 10am, to help members with specific concerns, and to share ideas and information. You can join using the link on our Linktree page, where you will also find more information about the MAB. Or use the Zoom link here:

Please also join Kingston UCU on Slack, to ask questions and stay up to date with branch activities and resources:

Support and information is also available from UCU central. We welcome the recent announcement of UCU’s central defence fund of £250,000, which you can read more about here. In addition, UCU central has further guidance, tools, and templates for the MAB here.

Kingston UCU Annual General Meeting & Call for Nominations

With the higher education sector still under threat of redundancies, unsafe workloads, casualistion, and devalued pay & pensions, our resolve to address these issues has never been stronger. Please join us to discuss these and other issues affecting our members. We will hold our Annual General Meeting (AGM) on 07 June 2023, 3pm on Zoom.

The agenda for the AGM is as follows:

  1. Branch committee nominations
  2. Update on current MAB, and future industrial action
  3. Finance report and local hardship fund
  4. Branch communications
  5. AOB

Our Kingston UCU branch committee members are committed to supporting you in fighting for equality. We know that members are being adversely affected both by events outside the University such as the ongoing cost of living crisis, as well as changes within the University such as the Townhouse strategy. To support our members with these challenges, we want to continue to build a strong and effective branch, reflecting our membership and its range of skills and experiences.

You can play a part in this by joining the Kingston UCU branch committee! In advance of our AGM on 07 June 2023, we are now inviting nominations to the Kingston UCU branch committee. There are a range of committee positions available, all of which have facilities time attached. These are funds which you can use to buy out teaching, through discussion with your line manager. See below role descriptions.

Role sharing is welcome, where members would like to split roles. You are also welcome to propose new roles. Suggestions, nominations, and self-nominations are welcome for all roles:  Nomination Form 2023

All nomination forms should be returned by 5pm on Friday 02 June, to the Returning Officer, Maggie Gray at m.gray@kingston.ac.uk.

We would love to have as many people as possible involved in the branch committee! If you have any queries about the roles or the process, please drop us an email, or join us on Slack.

Best wishes,

KU UCU Branch Committee

Kingston UCU branch committee recommends voting REJECT in the e-consultation on the current pay & conditions offer

We are advising our members to vote ‘REJECT‘ in the e-consultation over the current offer on pay and conditions from UCEA (University & Colleges Employers Association)

Having won another historic, formal ballot for industrial action, and with notification of the Marking & Assessment Boycott (MAB) starting 20th April, voting to reject the proposals in the e-ballot sends a strong message to our employers, that we will not settle for less than what our members are worth.

Vote to Reject the E-ballot

In the recent re-ballot, our union members delivered a resolution to continue fighting, with a  56.41% national turnout and resounding vote in favour of extending our mandate for industrial action.

On the Four Fights pay and conditions, higher education staff voted: 85.6% to Strike, and 89.92% to take Action Short of Strike

On the e-ballot for the Four Fights proposals, we are therefore recommending members to vote REJECT. Voting to ‘note’ will be a vote to accept. We do not accept that the proposals are in our members’ best interest. The proposals’ ‘talks about talks’ will give way to accepting the 5% imposed pay increase (an actual pay cut of ~15%) and more empty promises on workload, equalities and casualisation. Having won a resounding formal reballot, the only way to advance our claim for decent working and learning conditions in Higher Education is to continue with the Four Fights, to reject the e-ballot, and to prepare our members for the upcoming Marking and Assessment Boycott.

A full account of our reasons for this recommendation is set out below in an open letter drafted at a meeting of some 60 UCU branch activists from across the UK at an emergency meeting of the UCU Solidarity Movement 4th April. Click here to see signatories and add your name.

Marking and Assessment Boycott starting 20th April

Our employers have been informed that the Marking and Assessment Boycott will start Thursday 20 April 2023, in both our pay and conditions and USS pensions disputes, as decided by the UCU Higher Education Committee (HEC).

Last summer Kingston University UCU were proud to be among a number of institutions to undertake individual Marking and Assessment Boycotts, resulting in good wins for us locally. However, local action cannot address national issues, such as pay and pensions.

Therefore starting in April, we will be joining institutions across the UK in an aggregated Marking and Assessment Boycott. This industrial action is a powerful signal to employers that our members’ working conditions, pay, and pensions are worth fighting for.

From Thursday 20 April, members will cease undertaking all summative marking and associated assessment activities/duties. The boycott also covers assessment-related work such as exam invigilation and the processing of marks. See UCU Marking and Assessment Boycott FAQs here

Kingston UCU Branch will be holding daily support meetings on Zoom throughout the Marking and Assessment Boycott action, with details to follow. In our previous boycott, these meetings proved invaluable to support academic colleagues and deepen solidarity across our members.

In solidarity and thanks, for your continued determination to defend our sector, and to campaign for staff and student access to safe, sustainable higher education.

Kingston UCU Branch Committee

Student Solidarity Zine

We’ve seen fantastic support from Kingston students for our industrial action in the UCU Rising dispute. They know our working conditions are their learning conditions.

Illustration Animation students have created this zine to share information about the strike action and more broadly what a union / strike / picket line is, featuring reportage illustration made on the picket line and at teach-outs:

Students have also made their own posters in support of the strikes, run teach-outs like picket-line life drawing, and made placards, badges and banners. Thank you to Kingston students for their support and solidarity.

Strike action paused

Strike days scheduled for 21, 22, 23, 27, 28 February and 1, 2 March have been withdrawn following negotiations at ACAS (the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service).

Read the joint statement from trade unions and UCEA here. See the announcement of this decision by General Secretary Jo Grady on twitter here.

Strike days scheduled 16th  – 22nd March remain in place and our current ASOS (Action Short of a Strike) also remains in place.

At the same time UCU is launching a re-ballot of members in the UCU Rising pay and conditions dispute to renew the mandate for industrial action which runs out in April. Ballot papers will arrive from 22nd February. Post you ballot back as soon as possible. UCU recommends voting YES to keep up pressure during negotiations. To ensure you receive your ballot paper, make sure your details are up to date on MyUCU.

Strike action continues Thursday 9th and Friday 10th February

Kingston UCU members are back out on strike in the second week of escalating UCU Rising action in 2023 – strike days are Thursday 9th and Friday 10th February.

Join the picket lines 8am – 12pm at Penrhyn Road and Knights Park. There will also be a digital picket on Zoom at 10am – check linktr.ee/kingstonucu for the link.

There will be teach-outs both days including a picket line life drawing session organised by fine art students at 10am on Thursday at Knights Park. If members, staff, students or supporters are interested in running a teach-out contact us at kingstonucu@gmail.com

Share photos and follow the action on on twitter and instagram @kingstonucu. Find strike graphics & posters to download and share. HPLs can also post their stories on our HPL Precarity Tales padlet

Thursday 9th Feb is Student-Staff Solidarity day organised with NUS. Kingston students have been making solidarity posters. Share our strike explainer for students and talk to them about why we’re striking. Here’s 5 ways students can support the strike:

Don’t forget to claim strike pay from the national UCU Fighting Fund. To claim you need to show evidence of pay deductions so it is important that HPL colleagues claim the hours they would have worked as usual.

To get more involved, join our #strike-committee on slack: kingstonucu.slack.com.

Strike action starts Wednesday 1st February

Next week, February 1st, UCU will be on strike alongside teachers in the NEU, rail workers in ASLEF and the RMT, bus drivers in Unite, civil servants in the PCS, and outsourced UCL security guards in IWGB.  Join the local Kingston UCU picket line 8am – 12pm Penrhyn Road. Given the disruption to public transport we particularly need members who live locally to show up.

If you can’t travel to Kingston but are visiting local picket lines by other branches or unions, share a picture with us by tagging @kingstonucu on twitter or Instagram. There is also demonstration called by the NEU and supported by UCU and PCS in central London – assemble 11am Portland Place W1A 1AA. Look for the Kingston UCU banner.

Our employers have been notified of 17 further days of strike action over the next two months if they do not come to the table with a reasonable offer on pay and conditions.

How to support the strike:

Do not declare in advance whether you will be taking strike action. You are only required to respond to a direct inquiry from your line manager after industrial action has taken place. Employers try to use generic forms to collect information about who will be on strike in order to undermine the action by mitigating its impact.

Do not rearrange timetabled activities scheduled for future strike days. These strike days are designed to escalate with many points in between for employers to table a better offer, in which case they may be called off. Rearranging classes weakens the impact of strike action.

Join the pickets. Visible participation shows strength and support of strike action and amps up the pressure on our employers to make an offer that better meets our demands. We need to show them that they can’t sit back and ride this out.  Sign up for picket lines for 1st, 9th and 10th of February here: signup.com/go/stMgccK. We will be organising online picket organising meeting for Penrhyn Road and Knights Park pickets – details to follow.

Talk to your colleagues and students. Sign up to pickets together, encourage non-members to join. Talk to students about why we are on strike and encourage them to support us in putting pressure on university senior leaders to end this dispute by tabling a reasonable offer. Share our linktr.ee/kingstonucu where the student explainer and letter for students to send to the VC will be updated.

Claim strike pay. Don’t forget to claim from the national UCU Fighting Fund for days of strike action. To claim you need to show evidence of pay deductions so it is important that HPL colleagues claim the hours they would have worked as usual.

Join our #strike-committee on slack: kingstonucu.slack.com.

If you have questions about this industrial action, contact us at kingstonucu@gmail.com.  We will also be running stalls next week so drop by for a chat: 12-2pm Penrhyn Road, Monday 30th January. 12 – 2pm Knights Park, Tuesday 31st January.

Upcoming branch meeting to discuss industrial action strategy – 9th Jan 11am

We will be holding a Branch meeting on Monday 9th January at 11am to discuss industrial action moving forward, including issues regarding strike action and boycott.

Find a link for the meeting in your inboxes – please note the correct Zoom link is the second one emailed out.

Background information:

In November, the UCU Higher Education Committee voted for a Marking & Assessment boycott to begin in January, and indefinite strike action to begin in February, as part of our current mandate for industrial action in the UCU Rising dispute.

There are differing opinions in the union about how to escalate our dispute given employers are refusing to put any improved pay offer on the table. The General Secretary Jo Grady has proposed a strategy of 2 days + 3 days strike action in February, 2 days + 3 days strike action in March, a re-ballot (the current mandate expires 20th April), further strike days in April and a marking boycott to begin in the summer term. Watch her video here.

You can read the case for indefinite strike action put by Zara Dinnen and James Eastwood, Co-Chairs of Queen Mary UCU branch here: How to Stop a University. UCU Left also put out a statement in favour of indefinite strike action.

There are different proposals for what indefinite strike action could consist of. E.g. there is a proposal for ongoing strike action on 4 days a week with the 1 working day rotating. Read the case for this here/ watch the video.

This is the option favoured by the Kingston UCU branch committee. We will be voting on a motion about this option, as follows:

This Branch believes:

  1. In order to win action needs to be hard hitting and with no set end date.
  2. Action must be affordable to members and the union
  3. Continuous action may result in 100% loss of pay.
  4. Striking for 4 days per week should result in less than 57% loss of net pay for most members.

This Branch resolves:

  • To call on HEC to call strike action for 4 days per week, with 1 day per week worked in rotation for an indefinite period.
  • Notifications for first 5 weeks to be sent followed by notifications extending the action after 2 weeks of action and indefinitely as required thereafter until the disputes are settled or members vote to cease.

We will also be voting on the following motion related to action short of a strike:

This Branch believes:

  1. In order to win action needs to be impactful, whilst allowing us to best focus on our students.
  2. Action Short of Strike must be escalated in response to the lack of meaningful negotiation by employers
  3. Workloads currently impact our ability to do our jobs.
  4. One aspect of our workload that takes away time from our students and our responsibilities is attending meetings.
  5. Attending meetings is a voluntary activity, outside of our core roles in educating students (undergraduate, postgraduate, research); it is therefore within the scope of ASOS as has been indicated in advance.

This Branch resolves:

  • To call on HEC to call an escalation of our Action Short of Strike to include not attending meetings for an indefinite period.

Which course of action we take will be discussed at a Branch Delegate Meeting (BDM) on 10th January before the next Higher Education Committee meeting on 12th January. It is therefore really important for members to come to this meeting to share your views so our delegates to the BDM can represent them.

Further articles on this debate have been collated by Edinburgh UCU: https://www.ucuedinburgh.org.uk/indefinite-or-not

UCU Rising strike starts this week

This is a brief reminder on upcoming strike action on Thursday November 24thFriday November 25th, and Wednesday November 30thVisit our linktr.ee/kingstonucu to find out about all UCU Rising information, including digital pickets link, hardship fund, teach outs, and much more.

Here are some handy Dos and Don’ts about the upcoming action.


  • Sign up to a picket line time slot on campus here. The longer the picket, the shorter the dispute. We need a real show of defiance across the country.
  • Speak to your students. Our working conditions are their learning conditions. Staff at Kingston are overworked and nearly half of teaching staff are hourly paid. Every other university in the country is striking. This is a systemic problem and the students have a right to be honestly informed. Share our strike explainer for students
  • Speak to your colleagues about why you are striking. Short term disruption is necessary to halt long-term damage to our sector!
  • E-mail Caoimhe with a teach out idea and proposed time and picket!
  • Claim strike pay from the UCU Fighting Fund if you need to. We know times are hard, we want to feel confident not to be forced back to work!


  • Don’t inform management of your plans to strike! YOU HAVE NO OBLIGATION TO DO THIS. If asked a direct question about whether you took strike action honestly after the action is complete, answer honestly.
  • Don’t reschedule any classes that are canceled due to strike action! This is covered by our action short of a strke (ASOS)
  • Don’t cover the classes of striking colleagues!
  • Don’t upload any materials to Canvas on strike days. Withdrawing your labour means ALL of your labour.

Solidarity colleagues, and see you on the picket line!

Kingston UCU Branch

Strike days announced

Strike days have been announced as part of the UCU Rising dispute.

Kingston UCU alongside staff in all UCU branches across the country will go on strike: 24th, 25th and 30th November

Come to the Kingston UCU Extraordinary General Meeting Thursday 10th November 5pm on Zoom (check inboxes for link) to discuss and prepare for this action.

For more on how the issues in the UCU Rising dispute relate to Kingston see: What is the UCU Rising Dispute About?

Agreement negotiated with senior management related to marking & assessment boycott

Here is the agreement in principle negotiated between Kingston UCU and Kingston University for working together on local actions to address the issues that have long been a concern raised at our JNCC meetings with management which also chime with the current Four Fights dispute for which we have successfully obtained a mandate for industrial action, including a marking & assessment boycott:

22-06-13 JNCC Joint Statement FINAL

Kingston UCU members voted at the emergency branch meeting Monday 13th June to accept this agreement in principle.

Friday 17th June UCU formally lifted the marking & assessment boycott at Kingston University