Industrial action update

The SU has produced this briefing on the industrial actions taking place at SOAS to try to ensure that it’s members stay up to date with actions currently taking place in SOAS and to let you form your own opinions about how to engage with these issues.


Justice for Cleaners

Following 3 days of strike action last term, the SOAS cleaners have won improved conditions from their employers ISS. The offer which they accepted included 7 additional days of holiday,  sick pay from the first day of employment for ISS and an improved pension scheme. This is a significant improvement and a great victory for our cleaning staff, however the fight continues to ensure that these employees receive equal benefits to other members of SOAS staff via the shared services agreement.


 Fractionals for fair play

Fractional staff include GTAs on training contracts (who are also students), senior teaching fellows and teaching fellows. They take most of the tutorials, some lectures and many have worked at SOAS for years. They are not on permanent contracts, and are paid according to the hours they teach, with the addition of a multiplier  to account for additional responsibilities, such as lesson preparation, administrative tasks, marking and office hours. There is a strong feeling that their wage does not take into account the hours that they work, and a recent survey showed that on average, fractional staff earn less than London Living Wage.

The Fractionals for Fair Play campaign is a local issue to SOAS, unlike the UCU fair pay in HE campaign. The essay marking boycott they have undertaken is also different to the UCU marking boycott which is due to begin on May 6th pending the result of a consultative ballot. Fractionals are taking this action as they refuse to carry out any more unpaid work, they feel that the hours they are paid do not cover the additional time they are expected to spend marking essays.

The SU feels strongly that all staff should be paid fairly for the work that they do. This issue concerns the SU directly as many fractional staff are students too, and as such we have a responsibility to fight to improve their working conditions. You can show support for our Fractional staff, by signing this petition. If you have any further questions, please come to the public meeting TODAY at 6pm in the KLT

Email Richard Black ( and Peter Mitchell ( ahead of their meeting with UCU on Thursday on behalf on the fractional staff and urge them to seriously consider the proposals being made.


UCU Fair pay in HE dispute

As many of you know, UCU (University and Colleges Union) had planned to undertake a national marking boycott starting on 28th April as a final resort in their ongoing dispute for fair pay. On 15th April, UCEA, the organisation which negotiates pay on behalf of Higher Educations Institutes, made an offer to UCU of a 2% pay increase for the year 2014/15. UCU are currently undertaking a ballot in which members can vote on whether to accept this offer, or reject it. The results of this vote will be announced on Friday 2nd May. As a result, the start of the marking boycott has been moved to 6th May, pending the results of this ballot. You can read more about the offer here 


Why the SU supports these actions

 This has been a turbulent year for SOAS, with many members of staff taking a stand over worsening pay and working conditions, and students have been caught in the middle. The SU has been working  (as mandated by UGM) to put pressure on management to improve the working conditions of our staff and our student members who are on fractional contracts in order to bring an end to industrial action. The SU believes that ensuring our staff receive decent pay will directly improve the experience of our members and ensure that the teaching standard at SOAS remains high. 


Student support is vital to these struggles,  which are not only about our staff at SOAS, but are about the value of education more broadly. Universities are increasingly being run along market values, and the community which breathe life into our institutions are being neglected in the process, as advertising, recruitment and growth become more important than the wellbeing of our own staff and students. The staff who teach and support us should be paid fairly for the work that they do, just as when we finish our degrees, we will expect to be paid fairly for the work that we do, whether that be in academia or otherwise.


SOAS SU has a democratic mandate to support these campaigns specifically and to fight the privatisation of education more generally. If you feel that this support is misplaced, please submit a motion by Friday 2nd May to our next UGM on 8th May at 5pm in the JCR where the issue can be debated and voted upon

This webpage was last updated on: 30 Apr 2014 10:49