Big UCU university workers’ picket lines

Thousands of university workers are piling pressure on the bosses through their Marking and Assessment Boycott (Mab). Bosses at Queen Margaret University, in Edinburgh, have retracted their threats to slash workers’ pay by 100 percent if they take part in the Mab. Management backed down in the face of boycotters’ unity, the workers’ UCU union reports. 

Bosses’ threats originally came after strikers refused to reschedule lessons cancelled during their walkouts. The branch tweeted that this was an “incredible achievement and the result of the determination of our committee, the faith and conviction of our members, the solidarity of our students, the backing of our union nationally. And the support of everyone who shared a kind word or made a contribution.”

As a result, the union said it would withdraw the threat of strikes over the bosses’ attempts to slash pay during the Mab. Meanwhile, workers at sixteen further universities are facing similar threats of seeing £0 in their payslips. The result at Queen Margaret shows two things. First, it indicates that bosses see the Mab as a real threat, and want to discipline workers into walking away from it. 

And secondly, it shows that building opposition to bosses’ bullyboy tactics can win workers real victories.  Alongside the Mab, higher education institutions are set to be battered by further strikes by support workers.  Members of the Unison union at nine institutions have voted for a return to the picket lines.

Workers voted with an average of 87 percent for strikes, with five branches failing to reach the 50 percent ballot threshold. Support workers are demanding a pay rise in line with inflation, yet have been offered just 3 percent for most workers. Walkouts will include workers in university libraries, administration, facilities management, security and IT. Workers at a further 60 institutions will be casting their strike ballots from 31 May.

Workers are set to announce strikes at SOAS, University of Winchester, University of Bristol, University of Bedfordshire, University of Sussex, University of Leeds, University of Liverpool, Liverpool Hope University, Manchester Met University and University of the West of England

United fightback on jobs at Brighton university 

Bosses at the University of Brighton are attempting to cull hundreds of academic and professional services roles. But workers are already launching a fightback to stop management in their tracks. UCU members at voted unanimously to hold a strike ballot on Friday last week. Bosses want to slash 130 jobs, with a further 300 at risk. 

They claim that the university needs to make £1.7 million in savings—and wants workers to pay with their jobs. But this is the same regime that spent over £50 million on buildings in the last two years. Around 200 students joined a solidarity protest on Monday this week.

The University of Brighton student solidarity group said, “If the management of our university have messed up finances, they should be held accountable. The last people who should have their livelihoods on the line right now are the lecturers.”

For updates on the Brighton fightback go to

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