University of East London staff step up protests

Lecturers are set to protest at the University of East London next week to mark a decision by union members to strike this autumn.

July 14, 2012

Staff will gather outside the university’s Stratford campus on 18 July to demonstrate against plans they believe will increase workloads. The changes will allow managers to set staff workloads without taking into account lecturers’ class sizes and marking burden, union leaders claim.

Members of the University and College Union at UEL have been working to rule since May in protest at the proposed changes, which they say will damage their ability to prepare for lessons and mark students’ work.

Last month, members announced they had voted to take strike action this autumn, when UEL’s undergraduate tuition fees will rise to £9,000 a year. Dates for the strike action will be announced in August. A one- or two-day walkout is expected.

Jacqui Mitchell, UCU branch secretary at UEL, said: “Nobody at UEL wants to take strike action and there is still time to reach a negotiated settlement. However, if the university refuses to address our concerns we will go ahead with this action in the autumn.”

Union members are also unhappy about plans to strip staff members of their right of appeal to independent governors if they feel they have been bullied or given unfair workloads.

Greg Barnett, UCU regional official, said: “It is deeply regrettable that we have to escalate our dispute with the university. However, these planned changes to terms and conditions remove vital protections for our members and will endanger standards as staff are denied the necessary time to mark students’ work.

“It must be compulsory for teaching and marking loads to be taken into account when workloads are set.”

A UEL spokesman said: “We are currently in discussion with UCU officials regarding the matters in dispute and will continue to do all that is practically possible, through this consultation process, to reach a resolution with the union.

“Our overriding priority is to ensure that the student experience remains at the same high level as our students expect and deserve.”

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