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:

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 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

Updates & Good News

Solidarity from the front line!

The Marking and Assessment Boycott is already having a big effect at Kingston and across the HE sector. Senior management are running scared.

Kingston’s senior leadership are putting out communications which are at best dubious, clearly designed to intimidate. All external examiners have been sent a threatening email demanding they confirm by today if they are participating in the boycott. This is despite the fact that external examination is not covered by the boycott. We have prepared a template message members can send to external examiners, so please use it wherever you can and need.


Following yesterday’s clarification about notification, a reminder that managers should only be asking about past/current participation in the boycott, not future intentions. Members who are line managers should also follow advice from UCU here: UCU members who are heads of department or managers


Further afield, boycott actions have already forced university senior management into negotiations on pensions and 3 of the Four Fights. Kingston’s senior leadership have also made minor concessions even before the boycott started. Students at Leeds University, where the Vice-Chancellor has refused to meet with UCU officers, have occupied management offices forcing the VC to speak with them. Ulster University locked out its UCU teaching staff by announcing 100% deductions for the boycott. After negative publicity and reputational damage, the university has now offered to negotiate locally, and staff are back working but still staying in the boycottIt’s working, even with comparatively few participating. It’s never too late to join in.

The central concerns remain around pay deductions and intimidation. We sent out guidance about giving notification of participating in the boycott yesterday. Do get in touch if you need further support.

We are addressing potential deductions very seriously, and our aim is to mitigate hardship and losses to a significant extent through:

  1. Local hardship fund– share and donate!
  2. Central hardship fund this has received donations from £15 to £50k from branches with member levies – so all members can apply to this.
  3. Twinning. We are linking up with 5 branches which didn’t reach the threshold for action or which aren’t acting in the boycott. This is a central plank of a cross-branch solidarity strategy initiated by Heriot-Watt UCU – see document here: The Heriot Watt Strategy 2022. This will be a source of financial, social, and political solidarity for us now, providing the foundations of more mutual aid in the dispute going forward.

We’re also pleased to announce RHUL-UCU passed a motion of support for Kingston UCU and agreed an initial donation of £500. We are grateful to RHUL-UCU, and look forward to further fundraising and solidarity activities with our twinned institutions, now also including KCL.


It is important to keep communicating with students about the boycott, including the support we can give them, and how they can support us by putting pressure on our senior leadership to resolve this dispute by entering into meaningful negotiations. Share the Kingston UCU letter to students about the boycott and the e-poster produced by student members of UCU and Kingston UCU branch committee (left).

Again, please do not hesitate to get in touch if you have any concerns or questions.

Good luck & solidarity,

Kingston UCU branch committee

Top up the Fund Appeal

Today is the first day of the marking boycott, an action supported by our members in Kingston UCU in a final vote last Friday 20 May.  Solidarity to everyone at Kingston and its sister unions throughout the country who are taking part!   

We blew past our original target of £1000 pounds a mere 24 hours after launching the appeal, and offer a mighty thanks to everyone who have pitched in so far!  We’ve had donations and messages of solidarity from the Kingston community and beyond.

We have 46 days more to go in the Top Up the Fund appeal, and are hoping to raise much more to support our members who are starting to take action today.

All the more so as we learn that Kingston management have joined the leader board of the PEF – the Punitive Employer Framework (let’s make this a thing!!) – by being one of the top 10 employers threatening to deduct 100% pay from workers taking this legal action!

Please help us to fight back and to mark the first day of the boycott by sharing the appeal on your networks

Are you a Kingston UCU member and not able to participate in the marking boycott?  Then why not commit to sharing a part of your wages to help support those who are?  You can set up a regular monthly donation with your next donation! 

Solidarity and strength to those starting the boycott action today!