Industrial action: information and FAQs for students

We would like to provide you with some further information on the industrial action planned to take place on campus during February and March.

Due to a dispute regarding the future of the USS pension scheme, the University and College Union (UCU) is planning industrial action. This is a national issue, and we are hopeful that discussions at national level will provide a resolution.

However, the current situation is that UCU have called a series of strikes on the dates set out below:

  • Week 1: 2 days from Thursday 22 February 2018 to Friday 23 February 2018
  • Week 2: 3 days from Monday 26 February 2018 to Wednesday 28 February 2018
  • Week 3: 4 days from Monday 5 March 2018 to Thursday 8 March 2018
  • Week 4: 5 days from Monday 12 March 2018 to Friday 16 March 2018.

We are one of the 61 universities whose members of the national UCU (the University and College Union) have voted in support of strike action.

What is the strike about?

At the heart of the current dispute has been a disagreement about whether or not the USS pension scheme as it stands is sustainable and affordable for the future. Universities UK (the representative organisation for the UK’s universities) and the Pensions Regulator are of the view that the current scheme is unsustainable and therefore there is a need for significant reform.

On the other hand, the UCU is more sceptical about the level of risks long-term and seeks to defend the current pension provision for academic and senior professional services staff.

How might I be affected?

At present we are unsure of the extent and intensity of the proposed action as staff are under no legal obligation to inform us ahead of time if they plan to take industrial action. Since UCU membership is spread unevenly across the University, we suspect that some departments or students could face more significant disruption while others may be hardly affected. Wherever possible, we will let you know in advance if any of your teaching sessions are likely to be affected. We are working closely with departments to monitor the situation.

We have asked staff to make all reasonable effort to limit or mitigate the impact of strike action on students and other services users.

What should I do?

Please continue with your academic work, attend scheduled classes, and prepare for any assessments as normal. We expect that all student-facing services (e.g. the Library, cafes, the Students’ Union, the Sports Training Village, Student Services) will remain open during the strike action, but will send further information if this position changes.

You should expect to find picket lines at the main entrances to the University and also at the Virgil Building on the days of the strike. It is your decision whether you wish to cross the picket line, but we would always expect courteous and respectful behaviour from everyone in our community. If you feel in any way uncomfortable, please contact Security.

What’s next?

We will continue to keep you informed via email and through working with the Students’ Union. We will keep this webpage updated and have also drawn up a document collating Frequently Asked Questions which you may find useful.

Professor Peter Lambert,

Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Learning and Teaching)


You can view copies of previous communications below:

Industrial Action: Message from PVC Learning and Teaching: 19 February 2018

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