Bristol UCU Newsflash, 28th June 2023: Settle Don’t Escalate This Dispute: A Bristol UCU Response to University of Bristol Leadership

Response to University of Bristol Leadership: Settle Don’t Escalate This Dispute

Dear Evelyn,

A question if I may: as more and more universities make public statements to restart negotiations in our ongoing pay and conditions dispute, why does the University of Bristol Leadership Team persist in not joining them? What is the cost to the University of Bristol in stating the below?:

Pay rises in 2022-23 and 2023-24 have lagged seriously behind inflation. Many staff now face real hardship.

The current pay offer is not what staff deserve

We are clear that negotiations must restart to enable a different path to be found.

With both sides of the dispute keen to avoid annual industrial action, Bristol UCU and the University of Bristol leadership should be as one: acknowledging that staff deserve to be paid more; that universities need money to be able to do so; that longer-term thinking about pay is needed.

Instead, we find the University of Bristol, or rather University management, the Industrial Action Task Force, and their willing managerial acolytes engaging and devoting their time and energy to an unprecedented act of academic vandalism in their current awarding and progressing of undergraduate and postgraduate ‘degrees’.

Strong words? They are indeed.

But rest assured that unless this dispute is settled shortly, unless our Bristol temporary academic regulations are revoked, and unless the University mitigates its approach to punitive pay docking, our branch will not flinch from publicizing every ‘outrage’, every exam board cancelled at the last minute, every parent exam board’s oligarchic overruling of the board below, every interpolated proxy mark, every mark and perfunctory feedback given by an untrained strike-breaking marker, every unclassified degree pending a mark, every dissertation that goes unmoderated, every skewing of a final classification because of the non-counting of marks affected by industrial action, every degree that is not a degree.

We will share with students and stakeholders “a Wall of Academic Shame”.

All this could be avoided.

While Bristol alone is not going to ‘solve’ staff pay, workloads and precarity, surely the start is to follow the example of Birkbeck, Cambridge, Queens University Belfast, Glasgow Caledonian, Sussex, York, and Exeter, and call for new negotiations, acknowledge the working conditions of your staff, and work towards a long-term solution. 

Once these negotiations are up and running, Bristol can act as a sectorial leader, demonstrating to other institutions that commitments to close gender pay gaps, reduce precarity and manage workload are both affordable and practical.

Refusing to take this step, to avoid being seen to ‘reward’ industrial action, is an incredibly reactionary position to take, short-sighted and hawkish. 

Do not double down: let’s settle this dispute now.  


Bristol UCU Branch Officers, Your Bristol UCU Newsflash Team