After consultation with representatives, the University of Nottingham Students' Union are proud to stand in solidarity with UCU (University College Union) - the trade union for a large proportion of our academic staff here at the University of Nottingham.
After dedicating much of their time and resource to enhancing the student experience, we believe our lecturers have the right to a pension that will give staff peace of mind and stability.
The proposal by UUK (Universities UK) to change the USS pension scheme will not only be damaging to individuals financially, but will also mean uncertainty and low morale for our staff; staff who deserve to be rewarded and recognised fairly for their contribution to the University of Nottingham and Higher Education in general.
As representatives of the student population we stand with UCU as they take industrial action and urge you to show solidarity too. You can do this by writing to the Vice Chancellor to tell her your concerns, or joining our academics on the picket line during strike days. We have created a list of FAQs to support students if their lecturers’ are on strike which you can read here.
Students’ Union Officers
What is industrial action/a strike?
Industrial action is when workers either go on strike, or take other action (for example, not doing overtime). Industrial action happens when trade union members are in a dispute with their employers that can’t be solved through negotiations. A strike is when employees stop working until their employers meet certain demands.
How do I find out if my lecturer is striking?
If you would like to know if your lecturer is striking, you can e-mail them beforehand but staff are not obliged to tell anyone they are going on strike before the action takes place.
Why is my lecturer going on strike?
Many university staff are members of the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) - a national pension scheme with some 400,000 members.
Universities UK (UUK) wants to transform the USS scheme (a pension), from a defined benefit scheme that gives a guaranteed retirement income to a defined contribution scheme where pension income is subject to changes in the stock market. (https://www.ucu.org.uk/article/9194/University-staff-overwhelmingly-back-strike-action-in-USS-pensions-row)
There is debate regarding the deficit of the pension scheme’s assets i.e. what is available in the pension pot, and its liabilities. UUK say there is a large deficit, however UCU dispute the existence of a deficit at all.
National representatives of universities (UUK) and staff (UCU) have negotiated for several months, but these negotiations have now broken down without being able to reach an agreement.
As the pension would now be based on performance in the stock market, rather than the individual’s contributions, University staff/lecturers pensions would be much more unstable than they are now and UCU have suggested an individual could lose thousands of pounds every year as a result.
How have the National Union of Students responded?
Read the joint UCU/NUS statement here: https://www.ucu.org.uk/article/9247/Joint-NUSUCU-statement-on-USS-action?list=9041
How long is the strike?
The strike is 14 days long, spread across 4 weeks. Industrial action is scheduled for the following dates:
Thursday 22 February
Friday 23 February
Monday 26 February
Tuesday 27 February
Wednesday 28 February
Monday 5 March
Tuesday 6 March
Wednesday 7 March
Thursday 8 March
Monday 12 March
Tuesday 13 March
Wednesday 14 March
Thursday 15 March
Friday 16 March
How will marking be affected?
Staff on strike will not be marking during the strike.
How will my assessments be affected?
This will be different depending on your school, department or division. We advise you contact a member of staff in your school or department to see how your assessment may be affected.
When will my lecture happen?
UCU has advised members not to reschedule classes that have been affected by the strike however this is at the discretion of the lecturer. The University have confirmed they will be working with the schools to ensure there is minimal disruption to the curriculum.
How did the SU come to that decision?
To decide on how the Students' Union would respond to the UCU industrial action we held a vote between the full and part time Officer team as well as education reps (representing departments, schools and divisions) and faculty reps (5 Undergraduate, 5 Postgraduate Taught and 5 Postgraduate Research).
Will this effect Extenuating Circumstances claims?
The University says your schools or departments should also make plans to recover disrupted learning activities, maintain assessment deadlines or look at where revised deadlines or extenuating circumstances might be helpful for you.
Can I complain?
You have the right to complain about loss of teaching. If you wish to do so, you will need to use The Student Complaint Procedure. Please contact Students’ Union Advice if you would like more information about the process.
How can I show my support for the strike?
If you would like to show support, UCU have asked students to contact the Vice Chancellor to encourage her to speak against the hard-line position of UUK, or join members on the picket lines (Entrances to the University grounds). If you'd like to find out more, UCU will be producing flyers and post more information on social media. How you support staff in industrial action is up to you, but you may consider not crossing picket lines on the days when industrial action is held.
Will the library/student services/counselling be open?
These services will be open with minimal impact.
Vice-Chancellor Professor Shearer West issues an open letter to all students regarding University staff strikes:
Universities Statement Regarding the USU: