UCU Industrial action
The University have been notified by UCU of the following days of industrial action:
Strike action to run discontinuously as follows:
Seven strike days – Monday 14 February, Tuesday 15 February, Wednesday 16 February, Thursday 17 February, Friday 18 February, Monday 21 February and Tuesday 22 February 2022 with each day running discontinuously.
Alongside this, Action Short of a Strike (ASOS) will continue to run continuously as it was previously confirmed from Wednesday 1 December 2021 and will terminate no later than 3 May 2022. The action short of a strike will consist of UCU members only working their contracted hours and duties and not volunteering to do more.
Please find below answers to a number of possible questions about the UCU industrial action. If you have any further questions, please contact Peter Eley or your HR Business Partner who will be able to help you.
i. What should I do on the day of the strike?
You should report to work as usual unless you are taking industrial action. If you are absent from work due to holiday commitments or sickness, you must ensure that this is reported to your line manager and through iTrent and has been authorised prior to the day of leave (for annual leave) as required.
ii. Can I be prevented from attending work?
It is likely that UCU members may picket the entrances to the University. Picketers may ask you not to go into work, but they are not allowed to prevent you from attending work.
The picketers at any entrance must carry out what is termed peaceful picketing under the Code of Practice. In no circumstances does a picket have power, under the law, to require other people to stop, or to compel them to listen or to do what they ask them to do. A person who decides to cross a picket line must be allowed to do so. We would similarly expect all staff to behave courteously, respectfully and safely when passing through a picket on foot, a bike or in a vehicle.
iii. Am I obliged to take industrial action?
No-one is obliged to take industrial action; it is a personal choice. UCU members will have received guidance from their Union to help make this decision. No-one should feel pressured or intimidated into taking part in industrial action and if this does occur, it should be reported through the line management chain or directly to Richard Brooks.
iv. Can I be asked to cover the work of those taking industrial action?
If your line manager and / or Head of Department asks that you undertake such work, as long as it is within the bounds of your contract, normal work and job description, you are obliged to do it.
v. I am a member of a different trade union – can I take strike action on a UCU strike day?
If you are a member of a Trade Union other than UCU (and are not also a member of UCU) you are not able to legally take industrial action as this would constitute unofficial / illegal action. The other recognised trade unions within the University (UNISON and UNITE) did not have ballots which resulted in a legal mandate for industrial action. In this situation as a UNITE or UNISON (and not a UCU) member you are required to attend at work as normal on a UCU strike day.
If you are not a member of any trade union you would be able to take industrial action on a strike as long as you report this to your line manager after the day of strike. While you are not obliged to report before you take action as a non trade-union member it would be helpful if you could inform your line manager beforehand that you are considering taking action so they do think that you are absent without leave. Do also see point vii if you are making contributions into USS.
vi. Will I have my pay deducted if I am on strike or take any form of industrial action?
If you take strike action on an identified day of action on or between 14 to 22 February 2022 you will have one day’s pay (1/365th of your annual salary) deducted from your pay. This pay will be directly deducted from the first available monthly payment to you (for action on or between 14 to 22 February 2022 , this will be deducted in your March 2022 pay.
At this stage in the dispute the University does not intend to withhold pay for partial performance. However, please note the following advice in relation to partial performance where this arises from action short of a strike (ASOS):
The University does not accept partial performance and asserts and reserves its right to withhold 100% of a day’s pay for staff who only provide partial performance. Any work that striking staff do undertake on these days will be done as a volunteer and without any right to be paid;
The University may at its discretion, withhold a lower amount initially, without prejudice to its right to withhold full pay in future for partial performance;
The University reserves its right to withhold more, in the event of an escalation of the industrial action.
To clarify, we will not make deductions for partial performance if you are meeting the requirements of your contract in full. However, if you were to decide to take part in the continuous action short of a strike and did not fulfill all the requirements of your contract and the University decides to deduct pay for partial performance, you would consequently not be entitled to your contractual pay from the date when you started participating in the action.
vii. As a member of USS, what happens to my pension payments and pension benefits when I am on strike?
For this period of industrial action only (14 to 22 February 2022) USS has put a specific arrangement in place for death in service and incapacity cover to remain available for USS members taking strike action and ASOS including where full contributions are not being maintained. This cover will not currently require additional contributions.
USS has also confirmed that full employer contributions may be maintained by Universities during industrial action (to enable members to continue to build up full pension benefits) provided that the University has obtained prior agreement from the members individually that they will pay their employee pension contributions - to enable real time deductions to be made from your pay for your pension contributions where applicable.
Important note for members of USS: The University has been advised by USS that in order to continue taking contributions for strike days from striking USS members it must have permission from them to do so before the industrial action starts. Therefore, in order for our payroll department to continue to pay your USS employee contributions for the days that you are on strike as a direct deduction from your pay (in which situation the University has agreed to maintain its employer contributions) you must inform them by email of your request to do so.
Please inform Johanna Brownlow (Pensions officer) by email no later than 12noon on Monday 14 February 2022, confirming any days on which you intend to take strike action and that you agree to your employee pension deductions being made from your pay to cover these days so that you can maintain your full pension contributions. The personal information provided as part of this request will only be used for payroll purposes.
If you do not inform Joanna Brownlow of the specified information by this date confirmed above, I must point out that full contributions (both employers and employees) will not be maintained for you for any days when you are on strike (or in certain situations when undertaking other industrial action) and you will not accrue full pension for that period.
Please contact Johanna Brownlow]( mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org) if you have any queries in relation to the impact of strike action on AVCs or other pension matters.
viii. Am I required to report that I am on strike or taking other industrial action?
Your line manager and / or your Head of Department and the University are entitled to ask you to declare in advance what are your intentions around taking industrial action, although you are not obliged to respond. However, you are obliged to respond to them straight after the industrial action – e.g. a strike day - has occurred, confirming to them directly if you have been on strike or have undertaken any other form of industrial action.