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

UCU members vote to extend mandate for industrial action in reballot

UCU once again smashed the Tory anti-union thresholds and delivered a resounding YES vote in the re-ballot in the UCU Rising dispute over pay and conditions, and in the dispute over USS pensions. Turnout nationally was 56.41%. Thanks to everyone at Kingston who helped campaign to Get the Vote Out.

The results for UCU’s pay and conditions reballot were:

Are you prepared to take industrial action consisting of strike action?

Yes: 85.65%

No: 14.35%

Are you prepared to take industrial action consisting of action short of strike action?

Yes: 89.92%

No: 10.08%

See the full results for both disputes here

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 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 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

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:

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:

How Kingston senior management can take action to address our Four Fights demands

Kingston UCU has sent the following to senior leaders as our formal contribution to the Joint Negotiating and Consultative Committee (JNCC) meeting this month due to take place 17th May, but cancelled by senior management:
We call upon the Vice Chancellor and Senior Leadership Team of Kingston University to act upon the points within the University and College Union’s Four Fights campaign that they have acknowledged can be addressed, in part, at the local level. These demands must be met now to acknowledge the strength of feeling amongst staff that Kingston University must be transformed to create an equitable workplace.
  1. Publish the current number of staff vacancies in all areas of the University and commit to immediately advertise these vacancies by the end of June 2022.
  2. To further commit to recruit to these vacancies before the end of Teaching Block 1 2022.
  3. To proactively communicate to all fractional staff, before the beginning of Teaching Block 1 2022, the mechanism for having their fraction increased if their role and responsibilities have expanded and their fraction no longer fairly covers their workload.
  4. To repeat this communication to fractional staff and process at least once per year on an ongoing basis.
  1. To proactively communicate to all HPL and fixed term staff with clear guidance on the process to be made permanent and to invite casualized staff to begin this process by the end of June 2022.
  2. To communicate with all line managers and HR colleagues, by the end of June 2022, on how to actively support the process of conversion of temporary staff to permanent contracts with a view to maximizing conversion of staff.
  3. To convert all eligible staff on HPL or fixed term contracts to permanent fractional or full-time posts at the appropriate spine point and on a fraction that fairly reflects their workload and to complete these conversions to permanent before the beginning of Teaching Block 1 2022.
  1. To give all staff –regardless of grade or salary – a one-off £1000 bonus to acknowledge the extraordinary workload consequences of the Covid pandemic and the return to campus, and acknowledge the professional commitment, care and goodwill that staff extended to their students and colleagues to enable the university community to function through this period.
  2. To halt all further strike deductions – as to date these have been taken in punitive single deductions which have inflicted real financial distress on their own employees, including employees supporting dependents.
  3. To donate those strike deductions already taken in April to the student hardship fund, to be available to all students in financial distress.
  4. To commit to write an open letter to UCEA stating that ongoing and future pay negotiations must match inflation in order to prevent staff suffering during the cost of living crisis and halt the further erosion of pay in the sector.
  5. To publish on StaffSpace, send to all staff via the newsletter, and send to all line managers the process for bonus pay and requesting an increase in pay via spine point by the end of June 2022.
  1. To immediately cease the use of NDAs in all cases of bullying and harassment, and all processes relating to grievances, staff conduct or disciplinary processes.
  2. To align Kingston’s harassment, bullying and discrimination policies to sector-leading policies, and the measures advocated by campaign groups within this sphere.
  3. To roll out training on the prevention of sexual harassment, bullying and discrimination to all managers, supervisors and HR partners throughout the academic year 2022.
  4. To ensure that staff contributing to EDI initiatives, including networks, awards and benchmarking, have this work properly recognised within workload models, recognised in progression and promotion, (and through salary increase or acting up for leading roles.) To be completed within Teaching Block 1 2022
  5. To liaise with trade unions to identify key areas of non-promotable workload in the university and ask each department to conduct an equalities impact assessment on who conducts this non-promotable work. To respond to the equalities impact assessment to urgently correct imbalances in which staff undertake this work.
  6. To address the gender, race, and disability pay gaps that are increasing across the University through direct action, involving increasing these staff members spine points and temporary staff hourly wages, as needed. This should be accomplished by the end of Teaching Block 1 2022, guided by the already collected data from the University’s own report on these gaps.

Kingston University UCU branch committee

Four Fights Ballot results: KU UCU smashes threshold again and members vote strongly for further strike action

In the recent ballot over renewing our mandate for strike action and action short of a strike (ASOS) in the Four Fights dispute, Kingston UCU once again smashed the anti-union threshold, with 59% of members voting. The results were also again emphatically in favour of continuing our industrial action, with 71% voting for strike action and 85% for action short of a strike.





















In total 39 UCU branches will have a mandate for strike action running until October 2022 and 41 for ASOS, with the national vote closely matching our local one. The next steps are to take our branches’ views to the a special higher education sector conference on April 20th.

We are holding a branch meeting 19th April 11am online to gather Kingston UCU members opinions and ideas for the delegates from our branch to bring to the special conference. See inboxes for the Teams link.

Students vote overwhelmingly for Union of Kingston Students to support strike action

From Monday 7th February to Wednesday 9th February, all Kingston University students were invited by Union of Kingston Students to vote in a referendum that asked the question: “Should the Students’ Union support UCU’s upcoming strike?”

The result was a resounding YES – 82% of students were in support and 18% against.

A minimum turnout of 500 was needed for the result to be valid – this threshold was smashed with a whopping 1,286 students voting. The Union of Kingston Students will be following this up with a series of actions (which you can read about here).

This is a resounding and historic success for our Kingston community. It is clear that Kingston students are with us in this fight for better working (and learning) conditions and that any attempts to pit students against staff will likely be unsuccessful.

More strike days announced

(Photo credit: Diego Evrard-Broquet for The River KU lecturers taking industrial action)

Kingston UCU members, along with staff at 68 universities across the UK, will take further strike action in our dispute with our employers over spiralling workloads, shrinking pay, insecure contracts and pay inequality.

We are going back out on strike on 21st – 22nd February, and 28th February – 2nd March 2022.

These strike days will overlap with strike days at other institutions over changes to the USS pension scheme taking place 14th – 18th and 21st – 22nd February, and the NUS student strike on Wednesday 2 March calling for higher and further education to be free at the point of use for students and for staff to get better working conditions, pay and pensions.

Further industrial action may follow including  rolling regional and UK-wide strike action and a nation-wide marking and assessment boycott.

See you on the picket line.

Kingston UCU demand pay deductions from strike action be donated to student hardship fund

Kingston UCU have written to senior management to demand, in conjunction with Union of Kingston Students, that any money deducted from staff salaries as a result of taking strike action in December 2021, be donated to the student hardship fund. Other universities, such as Essex, UCL, and LSE, have agreed to do this.

Here is a copy of the letter:

Dear Helen,

We write to you in your capacity as chair of the JNCC at Kingston University and ask that you disseminate this communication to the wider Senior Management Team.

We are disappointed to learn that the university has chosen to take the unsupportive and punitive action of making deductions from the salaries of staff who declared themselves to have taken part in strike action in December 2021. The UCU national Four Fights campaign highlights the issues of excessive workload, casualisation, inequality and pay deflation, all of which are extremely pertinent to Kingston staff.

While we acknowledge that the employer is within their rights in taking this action, it is disheartening and demoralising that the current university leadership have carried out their threat to deduct payment from hard working staff, the majority of whom regularly work longer than contracted hours carrying out unpaid work from which the university benefits greatly. All this at a time when senior management are actively working towards awarding themselves pay increases. It is a further demonstration of the callous and uncaring attitude that senior management repeatedly display towards staff at Kingston and is detrimental to the continually deteriorating relationship between senior management and staff as evidenced by the recent staff survey.

Therefore, in conjunction with the Union of Kingston Students, we demand that the total sum of salaries deducted (and other cost savings incurred by KU such as pension and NI contributions) be made public and the equivalent sum be donated to the student hardship fund.

Rosie McNiece

KU UCU Vice-chair

on behalf of KU UCU branch committee