UCU Industrial action

The University have been notified by UCU of the following days of industrial action:

Strike action to run discontinuously as follows:

  • Originally eighteen strike days (reduced to 11 days and then increased to 12 days by adding an additional strike day) – occurring as follows with each day running discontinuously:

    • Wednesday 1 February 2023
    • Thursday 9 February and Friday 10 February 2023
    • Tuesday 14 February, Wednesday 15 February and Thursday 16 February 2023
    • Wednesday 15, Thursday 16 March and Friday 17 March 2023
    • Monday 20 March, Tuesday 21 March, and Wednesday 22 March 2023

Suspension of strike action - Late on Friday 17 February Jo Grady, UCU General Secretary confirmed that they had reached a point in discussions with employers where they had made significant progress across a range of issues and to allow ongoing negotiations to continue in a constructive environment have agreed to pause action across the pay and pension disputes for the next two weeks and create a period of calm.

This means the UCU strikes on Tuesday 21, Wednesday 22 and Thursday 23 February this week and Monday 27 and Tuesday 28 February and Wednesday 1 and Thursday 2 March will not go ahead. All the action scheduled after these dates remains in place plus one additional strike day on Wednesday 15 March that was added.

  • Alongside this, Action Short of a Strike (ASOS) will continue to run continuously as it was previously confirmed from Wednesday 23 November 2022 and will terminate no later than 21 April 2023. The ASOS will consist of UCU members only working their contracted hours and duties and not volunteering to do more.

On this page you’ll find information to help answer questions you may have 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. There is also an FAQ on the industrial action for students which can be found here.

i. What to do on the day of the strike?

Please 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 has been reported to your line manager, documented through iTrent and has been authorised prior to the day of leave (for annual leave) as required.

ii. Getting onto campus on the day of a strike

It is likely that UCU members will picket the entrances to the University on at least some of the strike days. Picketers may ask you not to go into work, but they are not allowed to prevent you from attending work.

Picketers at any entrance must carry out what is termed peaceful picketing under the Code of Practice. In no circumstances does a picketer have power, under the law, to require other people to stop, or to compel them to listen or do what they ask them to do. A person who decides to cross a picket line must be allowed to do so. We similarly expect all staff to behave courteously, respectfully and safely when passing through a picket on foot, a bike or in a vehicle.

iii. How to decide if you want to take industrial action

No-one is obliged to take industrial action; it's a personal choice. UCU members will have received guidance from their Trade 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 is important that you report to your line manager and / or directly to Richard Brooks.

iv. Can I be asked to cover the work of those taking industrial action?

If your line manager / or Head of Department requests you to undertake such work, as long as it is within your role and job description, you are obliged to do it.

v. I am a member of a different trade union or am not a member of any 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 resulting 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 a member of staff who is not a member of any trade union, who can legally take strike action on a UCU strike day, if you choose to do so.

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 1 February and 22 March 2023 you will have one day (1/365th of your annual salary) deducted from your pay. This will be directly deducted from your March 2023 pay (for strike days from 1 February to 23 February 2023) and April 2023 pay (for strike days from 27 February to 22 March 2023).

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 take part in the continuous ASOS, and do not fulfil all your contractual requirements, the University may deduct pay for partial performance. If this happens, you would not be entitled to your contractual pay from the date 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 (from 1 February to 22 March 2023) 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 can 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:

If you are planning on striking, you must give your permission for us to continue taking pension contributions for those strike days before the deadline, confirmed below.

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 you must inform the Pensions Office by email of your request to do so by no later than 12noon on Monday 6 February 2023, confirming that 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 the Pensions Office of the specified information by this date confirmed above, 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 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.

ix. I am employed on a visa sponsored by the University - is there anything additional that I need to do?

Strike action is a permitted absence under the current sponsored workers schemes but the University is required to report to UKVI if a sponsored worker is absent from work without pay for more than 4 weeks including any days of strike action.

For this reason there is one extra action that you need to make if you are taking strike action and are a sponsored worker under a Skilled Worker Visa or Temporary Worker Visa. This is to report your strike action as an absence on iTrent online using the Employee Self-Service (ESS).

To report, simply log into iTrent ESS and click on the + Add Other Absence tab which is in a box titled Other absence on the left hand side under Sickness. Click on the drop down menu for absence type (required) and select the option of Strike Action (Sponsored Visa Staff Only - Tier 2 & 5) and add in the dates and save. This is all that you need to do, additionally.

If you have any questions on this reporting please contact the HR Visas team at hr-visas who can advise you confidentially on this question.