Bristol UCU Newsflash, 7th June 2023: Settle This Dispute Now. Make Us A Offer Today

Thanks to everyone currently participating in our marking and assessment boycott at the University of Bristol. Week 8 and going strong.

As reports flood in of marking going unmarked and assessments being cancelled, the MAB at Bristol is far more than the handful of MAB-ers, as claimed by University Management when speaking to journalists.

Our Bristol Students’ Union backs our demand to settle this dispute now and to rescind the degraded degree academic regulations.

Rather than settle this dispute, make UCU and the other unions involved in our pay and conditions a dispute-ending offer, university employers have responded to the MAB by threatening grossly disproportionate pay docking, and crudely overhauling academic regulations to the gross determinant of students graduating in 2023. Enough is enough. Settle this dispute now. Make us an offer.  

University of Bristol Management’s failure in this regard is now starkly illustrated. University after University, Sussex and Cambridge, for example, are now calling for union and employer talks to end this dispute. UCU stands ready and willing to talk. Yet our streamlined Vice-Chancellor Leadership Team — for want of a better constitutional explanation of ‘who runs the University?’ — are implacably refusing to do the same. Why?

Is it because calling for talks today incurs debilitating institutional financial cost tomorrow? The answer is no; it is a first step, not a final settlement. Is it because they cannot? Well, as more universities call for talks, the ‘we’re following a collective UCEA line’ becomes less credible.  

Is it because the best policy for this University’s Management seems to be: ignore the dispute, go through the motions, pretend it is not happening, and hope a near decade-long grievance over pay and working conditions disappears? Sadly, the answer seems to be yes.

This is in stark contrast to the University of Bristol under its previous Vice-Chancellor Hugh Brady.  

Although there were countless areas of disagreement between employer and recognised campus trade unions, when Senior Management reasoned that it was in the interest of the University to act, they acted. They did not worry about ‘talking out of school’ or giving credence to strike action; they spoke up when it came to settling disputes and restoring pensions when they deemed it right.  Such a confident, clear-sighted approach to solving disputes is now sadly lacking at this institution.