On Tuesday 5 November, the University and College Union (UCU) announced eight days of strikes beginning Monday 25 November 2019 until Wednesday 4 December 2019. This will be followed by an indefinite period of action short of strikes, which can include academics not working beyond contracted hours or doing extra work. UCU have called these strikes on the issues of pensions, pay equality, and casualisation (unstable or temporary contracts with variable hours).
On Thursday 7 November, Union Council voted to approve Policy outlining the Students’ Union’s stance on this ballot for Industrial Action.
The Students’ Union sympathises with the academics and their plight, yet we note the significant disruption this causes to students. We will aim to work with both the local UCU branch and the University to minimise the disruption to students and to make sure that money saved from striking academics’ pay is dedicated to student experience in a clear and accountable way.
We recognise that casualisation and pay inequality negatively impacts the quality of teaching for our student members. These issues also directly affect many of our postgraduate members who engage in teaching and research. We will continue to lobby the University on these issue, which are well within their control. We encourage UCU and UUK (Universities UK) to resolve the USS pension’s dispute through non-disruptive national negotiation.
As a Union, we strongly value the principles of unionism and collective action and, as such, we will endeavour to not break nor compromise the effects of the strikes through our actions.
We encourage any students who feel passionate about these issues to join any action they see fit, whether by joining picket lines or expressing their opinion to UCU or the University by letter. We reiterate that our policy is to always defend a student’s right to peaceful and lawful protest whatever its form. We reject any implication that taking part in peaceful and lawful protest is in any way grounds for disciplinary action.
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 email 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?
UCU are striking on two counts. The first being over the proposed renegotiated changes to the defined benefits USS pension scheme. The second is over the issues of pay, workload, equality, and casualisation.
How have the National Union of Students responded?
Read the joint UCU/NUS statement.
How long is the strike?
The strike is eight days long. Industrial action is scheduled for the following dates:
- Monday 25 November
- Tuesday 26 November
- Wednesday 27 November
- Thursday 28 November
- Friday 29 November
- Monday 2 December
- Tuesday 3 December
- Wednesday 4 December
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 that 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 make sure that there is minimal disruption to the curriculum.
How is the Students’ Union responding?
Read the Union’s Policy.
How did the SU come to that decision?
The Students’ Union’s Council voted to approve Policy to that effect on Thursday 7 November.
Will this effect EC claims?
The University has stated the following:
‘On the limited occasions where an assessment cannot be changed, then Boards of Examiners would make overall adjustments to marks in recognition of the additional difficulties faced by the students on the affected module.
‘The intention would be to ensure that the cancellation of teaching has no detrimental effect on any student in terms of the marks they receive. In such circumstances you would not be required to submit a claim for extenuating circumstances.
‘If the industrial action has a specific detrimental impact on you personally, you might be able to make a request for Extenuating Circumstances, which supports students with exceptional, unforeseeable, short-term circumstances which affect their ability to study or take assessments.’
If you are unsure whether you’re entitled to make an extenuating circumstances claim, please check the Quality Manual, or get in touch with our Students’ Union Advice Team.
Will I receive compensation?
Students have the right to make a complaint to the University. For more information on this, please refer to the Students’ Union Advice Complaints Information.
How can I show my support for the strike?
If you would like to show support, UCU and NUS have asked students to contact the Vice Chancellor or join members on the picket lines (at entrances to University grounds). If you'd like to find out more, UCU will be producing flyers and post more information on social media. How you do or do not support staff in industrial action is up to you.
Will the library/student services/counselling be open?
These services will be open with minimal impact.
For more information, please refer to the University’s FAQs.