Advice for members on UCU marking and assessment boycott

UNISON has written to all branches with members in Higher Education to provide advice to cascade to members with regard to the potential impact of the UCU marking and assessment boycott on them.

As part of the wider HE Pay 2023-24 FAQs they have included the following guidance around the UCU marking and assessment boycott:

UCU/ Unite/ EIS/ GMB are going on strike or are carrying out action short of strike (which could be a marking and assessment boycott) and UNISON does not have a mandate for strike action or action short of strike at my employer, or has a achieved mandate but has not called members out on strike or action short of strike at my employer. What advice does UNISON give to members when other unions call a strike at their workplace, but UNISON does not?

UNISON respects the rights of other trade unions to take industrial action and wishes to support them where it can do so. We urge members to consider supporting legal protests organised by other trade unions that take place outside your contracted hours of work. However, UNISON members are advised to continue working their normal duties and responsibilities and must refrain from joining the industrial action taken by other unions unless it has been authorised by UNISON. This is because it may otherwise be viewed as unofficial industrial action endorsed by the union or some form of misconduct by the individual(s) concerned.  UNISON members should carry out any reasonable management instruction given to them in accordance with their contract of employment, which could include duties they do not normally carry out on a day-to-day basis, but which are within their capabilities and commensurate with their grade. Members should bear in mind that any refusal to carry out a reasonable management instruction could potentially give the employer a strong argument that misconduct has occurred. In accordance with s.237 of TULRCA 1992, our members in the circumstances described above are likely to lose protection from dismissal if they refuse to cross a picket line and/or choose to join in the industrial action of other unions.

Members who are unsure whether or not they need to carry out duties they have been asked to undertake should contact their UNISON rep, branch or region for further advice and support. Members are reminded that due to the current legislation only those employees who have been involved in a legal ballot where we met the 50% turnout threshold with a majority yes vote are allowed to take industrial action.