From of email sent to branch members on Friday 16 December 2022
As we reach the end of term and approach the Christmas and new year closure. I wanted to get in touch to update you on a couple of points.
Extraordinary General Meeting
You will have seen emails from the General Secretary stating that a branch delegates meeting has been called for 10th January to allow branches to feed into the next steps of our national dispute. We expect to hear shortly what questions branches will be asked to answer. In order to form our branch position on this we are, as usual, calling an Extraordinary General Meeting at 11:45 – 1:00pm on Monday 9th January (Zoom link will be sent nearer the time).
If you would like to propose a motion for this meeting please send the text of the motion to email@example.com by 12 noon on Thursday 5th January.
Please plan to attend this meeting if at all possible. It is fundamentally important not just that we can all feed into decisions but that we can understand and engage with the debates and the different points of view that people have. Once a decision is taken, we need to stand by it.
Marking and Assessment Boycott
We have now been told that a marking and assessment boycott will be notified to our employer in very early January. There must be two weeks between notification and the start of the boycott. The Leeds assessment period begins on 16th January. Given the timing of bank holidays, it would be surprising if the boycott would be able to start on 16th January but I certainly hope it will be very shortly thereafter. We will of course keep you fully updated, and intend to return to a pattern of supportive meetings and discussions over the period of boycott. There is FAQ on the UCU website on the marking and assessment boycott – this has not yet been updated to match the January notification, but much of it will still be helpful.
Note in particular that the boycott does not just cover marking – it covers anything to do with assessment. It also covers, amongst other things, setting and scrutinising assessments and examination papers, processing marks, attending examination boards and meetings, and PGR assessment. The FAQ states that academic integrity and mitigating circumstances meetings should not be attended because they will involve awarding or confirming student marks. This is not the case under Leeds regulations and I am seeking an urgent update to the FAQ which I hope to get before any boycott starts.
We do not know what position the university will take in relation to pay deductions for a marking and assessment boycott. We do know that those of you who are hourly paid do risk losing money as a result of this. We need to take a formal decision in committee, but I can assure you that we are likely to propose the same approach as we took in may which is to allow hourly paid staff who accept marking before the start of the boycott to claim from the local fighting fund.
For now, whether you are salaried or hourly paid, remember that you are not required to tell anybody in advance that you will be participating in industrial action including a marking and assessment boycott, and we advise you not to do so.
Whilst the bulk of marking across the university is likely to come in in January, I know some is coming in this week and some staff are used to marking over the Christmas vacation. Remember that you are working to contract. The university is closed from 23rd December until 2nd January inclusive and unless your contract specifically states that you can be expected to work over that time, you should do no work over the university closure days. Many of us take additional annual leave over this period – please let the branch know if you experience difficulties booking or taking annual leave over the vacation. Sick leave is part of your contractual entitlement. It’s quite common for staff to become ill at the end of term because of how hard you have been working – if that happens to you, take the time off sick, make sure you report it, and don’t work whilst you’re ill. If you are expected to mark during your working days over the Christmas vacation make sure that you don’t overwork whilst doing it. If you are given unreasonable deadlines for your marking please contact the branch for our advice, particularly if there is any sense that the deadlines are unusually early.
I may be in touch again next week, but for those who are stepping away from email now for the vacation, I wish you a happy and restful holiday, and a successful and victorious New Year!
Dr Chloe Wallace
Associate Professor in Law
School of Law
University of Leeds.
Co-Director, Centre for Innovation and Research in Legal Education
Programme Leader, School of Law 4 year programmes
President, Leeds University UCU
This page was last updated on 16 December 2022