Supporting members through the Marking and Assessment Boycott (MAB)

UCU members across the United Kingdom in higher education are now halfway through week three of the marking and assessment boycott (MAB) in the pay and conditions dispute. Universities have responded to legal industrial action by threatening punitive pay deductions of up to 100% [Portsmouth and Winchester 100%Solent University 50%; and Bournemouth 30%]. UCU is working with branches where deductions have been threatened to implement the escalation strategy (no contact with Solent UCU yet) which includes applying pressure through campaigning, negotiation and strike action. UCU announced on Friday, 5 May that the union had agreed to ringfence £250,000 for members facing deductions for taking part in action short of strike. Furthermore, Southern Regional Committee (UCU South) has submitted a late motion to Congress 2023 on Friday, 5 May to ‘lift the cap’.

In Solidarity,
Solent UCU

UCU agrees to pause strike action on pay and pension disputes for two weeks and create a period of calm. 

This means the strikes on Tuesday 21, Wednesday 22 and Thursday 23 February next week and Monday 27 and Tuesday 28 February and Wednesday 1 and Thursday 2 March will not go ahead. All the action scheduled after these dates remains in place – this will put pressure on the employers.


Message from Jo Grady (General Secretary)
“Today we are nearer to reaching the sector defining agreement we need than ever before. But this position has only been delivered because of your support. And we will only get it across the line if you continue to deliver that support.

In practice this means:

  1. Voting YES in the reballot
  2. Encouraging every colleague to vote YES
  3. Asking non-members to join UCU
  4. Be prepared to take the rest of the scheduled action if it is needed
  5. Taking every possible opportunity to pressure the employer.

In closing, we will do everything possible to update you on the progress of the negotiations in the coming days and weeks. That said, it is crucial those talks are seen as secondary to the need to deliver a huge mandate in the reballot.”

Mark Farwell
Chair, Solent UCU

University strikes set to hit 150 UK campuses over pay, conditions & pensions on 24 November 2022

Over 70,000 university staff at 150 universities will strike for three days this month over pay, working conditions and pensions. The National Union of Students (NUS) has backed the strikes, which will be the biggest ever to hit UK universities and could impact 2.5 million students.

UCU said disruption can be avoided if employers act fast and make improved offers. If they don’t, strike action will escalate in the New Year alongside a marking and assessment boycott.

The full strike dates in November are:

  • Thursday 24 November
  • Friday 25 November
  • Wednesday 30 November.

Staff will also begin industrial action short of strike action from Wednesday 23 November, which includes working to rule, refusing to make up work lost as a result of strike action and refusing to cover for absent colleagues.


In Solidarity,
Chair, Solent UCU

Results of the #ucuRISING ballots over USS, and pay & conditions which closed at 5pm on 21 October 2022.

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

Yes: 81.14%
No: 18.86%
Turnout: 57.71%

Northern Ireland*
Yes: 78.99%
No: 21.01%

Are you prepared to take industrial action consisting of action short of strike action (which for this purpose is defined to include overtime and call-out bans)?

Yes: 88.75%
No: 11.25%
Turnout: 57.71%

Northern Ireland*
Yes: 89.90%
No: 10.10%

UCU Rising: 14 days to go until the ballot closes on Friday, 21 October – Please vote today

At midday today we have only 14 days to go until the national ballot closes on Friday, 21 October 2022. To that end, we (Solent UCU) intend to have 10 days of fairly intensive activity on the Get The Vote Out (GTVO) campaign and will be holding an all-day event on the Andrews Concourse on Wednesday, 12 October from 9am to 5pm. Please feel free to drop by for a chat, updates, giveaways, and to order a replacement ballot.  

If you have not yet received your ballot paper, you can order a replacement paper here or on the Andrews Concourse before midday on Wednesday 12 October – after that it will be too late.    

Please email your GTVO Lead (Paula Elliott, Mark Farwell, Rasitha Galagangodage, Carolyn Potts) once you have voted and returned your ballot paper to Civica Election Services (CES). A big thank you if you have already voted. 

The deadline for posting your ballot paper is Tuesday, 18 October to ensure that the CES is in receipt by Friday, 21 October. 

You can read the latest updates about the UCU Rising campaign here. 

If you have already voted, please click here to report that you have voted  

This will generate a new email. Please do not change the emailjust click on Send. Please note that we do not ask which way you voted, just that you have voted. The only data stored is whether you have responded. 

This data will be used by UCU in accordance with data protection legislation.  

The outcome of the ballot should be known by Monday, 24 October or before. To that end, we have called a Branch meeting/AGM to discuss the outcome of the ballot and next steps on Wednesday, 26 October (time/venue TBC)

In solidarity
Chair, Solent UCU

The Four Fights Ballot closes on Friday, 8 April at 5pm

We are now in the last week of balloting (ballot closes on Friday, 8 April) and for the ballot to count the law (Trade Union Act 2016) requires UCU to achieve a turnout of at least 50% as well as a majority vote in favour of industrial action. UCU is in dispute with Higher Education institutions, including Solent University, about the outcome of the annual national negotiations on pay and conditions.


NB. Please make sure your ballot paper is in the post to CES by Wednesday, 6 April 2022.

Mark Farwell
Chair, Solent UCU

Four Fights: Ballot Opens on Monday, 18 October 2021

UCU will be balloting members in higher education from Monday 18 October to Thursday, 4 November 2021 on the ‘Four Fights’. Solent University members will be balloted on “wages that do not keep up with the cost of living; precarious employment practices; workload intensification; and pay gaps for women and Black and disabled staff. The ballot closes on Thursday 4 November at noon, and if you have any questions please contact me on

What is UCU fighting against?
What is UCU fighting for?

Call for Get the Vote Out (GVTO) Volunteers
We registered our GTVO plan in September and I am the GTVO Lead for Solent UCU. However, we will need to call on members, as well as reps, branch officers and officials, to ‘get the vote out’ and achieve the necessary 50% turnout threshold (Trade Union Act 2016) to participate in some form of industrial action. Hence, every UCU member has a part to play in winning a mandate by voting and being actively involved in getting the vote out. “Being in a union is more than just putting a cross in a box. It is about standing together with our colleagues and students to defend education and research – both those who provide it and those who rely on it”. We win disputes “by building trust and support for collective action among members in every workplace and every single department. The more staff take part in this action, the sooner you will win and the sooner you can return to work in a sector that is finally starting to value you and your contribution properly” (UCU general secretary, 2021).

The ballot closes on Thursday 4 November at noon.

Best wishes
Chair, Solent UCU

Ballot of UCU members at Solent University – Ballot opens on Monday, 15 February 2021

Background to UCU dispute with Solent University
UCU and Unison received notification on the 2 November 2020 regarding the University’s intention to put 18.5% of staff at risk of redundancy (219 posts), with plans to make 109 staff redundant (9.2%) in Phase One (2 November 2020 to 26 February 2021). The University has also indicated that there will be a Phase Two (April to July 2021) although the number of posts to be made redundant and at-risk had not been specified.

UCU sent notification of a trade dispute to Solent University on 25 November 2020 on grounds of the proposed redundancies, the failure of Solent University to disclose information and meaningfully consult with UCU, and the failure of Solent University to remove the threat of compulsory redundancy as part of those proposals.

Please see below for a link to the UCU trade dispute letter:
UCU trade dispute letter – 25 November 2020

Solent UCU launched a consultative ballot of UCU members between 26 November and 2 December 2020. The ballot result on a turnout of 78% – overwhelmingly supported ASOS (92%) and strike action (71%).

UCU Ballot for Strike Action and Action Short of Strike Action.
In early January 2021, UCU commenced a ballot of our members at Solent University on strike action and action short of strike action. This ballot closed on at noon on Wednesday 20 January 2021. The response to the question you were balloted on is as follows:

Are you prepared to take industrial action consisting of strike action?
Votes cast in the ballot as a % of individuals who were entitled to vote: 57.6%

Number voting YES: 107 (72.8%)
Number voting NO: 40 (27.2%)
Number of papers found to be invalid: 4

Are you prepared to take industrial action consisting of action short of strike action?
Votes cast in the ballot as a % of individuals who were entitled to vote: 57.6%

Number voting YES: 142 (94%)
Number voting NO: 9 (6%)
Number of papers found to be invalid: 0

It should be noted that this is the highest turnout ever in a ballot for industrial action at Solent University, and a huge increase since our last ballot in October 2019.  This is the first time since the introduction of the Trade Union Act 2016 that Solent University UCU has managed to exceed the barrier of 50% turnout in the ballot that is now required by law.

Negotiations with Solent University
Following on from the ballot of UCU members, Solent University entered into negotiations with UCU to resolve the trade dispute.  It should be noted that in the context of the ballot result, your negotiators managed to make more progress in negotiations in two weeks, than in the previous two months.

Solent UCU members should be clear that the proposed settlement offer is as a direct response to members making clear that they are prepared to take strike action and action short of strike action.

Proposed Settlement with Solent University
Full details of the ‘Proposed Agreement to Suspend the Trade Dispute between UCU and Solent University’ can be found here.

Full details of the joint statement signed by Professor Karen Stanton, Vice-Chancellor and Dr Mark Farwell, Chair, Southampton Solent UCU can be found here. This statement highlights some key features of the proposed agreement:

Solent UCU believes that we have fully achieved the objectives set out in the trade dispute, with the key exception of our first objective to obtain, a written commitment from Solent University senior management that there will be no compulsory redundancies as part of the current proposals.’

We were not able to obtain this commitment.  The best position achievable in negotiations is as is set out in clause 2, which includes the text:

Solent University reserves the right to progress the small number of cases currently outstanding, which could result in compulsory redundancy dismissals if alternative individual arrangements cannot be agreed (and therefore the final position in relation to those individuals remains unknown as at the date of this agreement). UCU maintains its opposition to all compulsory redundancies.

UCU will continue to support these members, and the proposed agreement would not impact on any individual’s employment rights.

Most importantly, Solent University has agreed not to proceed to a second phase of pay cost reductions within this academic year 20/21.  The University has given a written commitment as follows:

Solent will not make any new compulsory redundancies or commence statutory redundancy consultations (including section 188 notifications) in the period between the date of this agreement and 1 February 2022.

Solent UCU negotiators have noted the clear message from members in Branch meetings about the lack of trust and confidence in Solent University management.  That is why the proposed agreement is presented to members as a suspension, and not an end to the dispute.  To be clear, Solent UCU expects Solent University to honour all terms of this agreement, but this agreement also includes a dispute resolution mechanism and maintains UCU’s mandate for strike action and action short of strike action.  If all of the agreed actions are completed, Solent UCU will formally withdraw the trade dispute on 20 July 2021 (the date the ballot mandate for action expires under the terms of the Trade Union Act 2016).

Solent University has also agreed to enter into timed negotiations to complete a ‘Redundancy Avoidance Agreement.’  This will include reviews of the severance, redeployment policies and pay protection policies.  This will also incorporate agreed provisions for disclosure of information to recognised trade unions in any future restructure or redundancy situation, including financial information, to address concerns arising from the start of the consultation in October 2020.

Solent UCU obtained meaningful undertakings from Solent University that it will continue to fully comply with collective agreements reached with UCU, including on Academic Career Pathways, Academic Workload Planning and the local Framework Agreement.  We have also agreed further ongoing joint work with Solent University to address the concerns of UCU members at Solent University on pay inequality, job insecurity, rising workloads and concerns about pay devaluation through grade drift.  This will include agreement of oversight mechanisms, to ensure that the experience of staff in practice matches the letter and spirit of the collective agreements between UCU and Solent University.

The proposed agreement also includes provision that extends the pay protection arrangements for a small group of staff who have been redeployed in phase 1 for a period of 12 months.  This will consist of full pay protection (i.e. at the grade prior to restructure) for 12 months. Solent University and UCU will also review these roles within 12 months (please see clause 5).  Solent UCU’s objective in this review will be to ensure that no Solent UCU member is downgraded due to the restructure process.

Consequences of Solent UCU members’ votes
If Solent UCU members vote to accept this proposed ‘Agreement to Suspend the Trade Dispute between UCU and Solent University’ – UCU will enter into the agreement with Solent University.  We will be expecting Solent University to take forward all agreed actions, under the agreed timetable, and we have a dispute mechanism should any issues arise.  UCU maintains our mandate from the ballot for strike action and action short of strike action.  If all of the agreed actions are completed, Solent UCU will formally withdraw the trade dispute on 20 July 2021.

If Solent UCU members vote to reject the proposed ‘Agreement to Suspend the Trade Dispute between UCU and Solent University’ – UCU will not enter into the agreement.  Solent University would therefore not be under any obligation to continue with the agreed action.  Solent UCU would seek authorisation from UCU’s elected National Officers to call out Solent UCU members to strike action and/or action short of strike action.

Voting Information
Solent UCU Branch Negotiators believe that the final proposal from Solent University is the best that can be achieved through negotiations in the present circumstances.

We urge you to use your vote in this ballot, and please encourage other UCU members to participate in this vote.


The ballot will close at 4pm on Friday 19 February 2021.

Do you accept or reject the proposed Agreement to Suspend the Trade Dispute between UCU and Solent University?

A:            Accept

B:            Reject


Link back to Solent UCU home page