Industrial action update for staff

Published: 19 February 2020

A letter has been sent to all members of staff in advance of planned industrial action by some members of UCU

Industrial Action

The following is the text of a letter that has been sent to all staff members ahead of planned industrial action by some members of UCU.

The University has been notified by the University and College Union (UCU) that their members have been called to take a further 14 days of strike action over a period of four weeks from Thursday 20th February until Friday 13th March 2020. This is in response to the ongoing dispute over the 2018-19 Pay Settlement and recent USS pension changes.

The University is not party to personal information pertaining to trade union membership at an individual level and is rightly unaware of those of you who are members of UCU (and thus eligible to participate in strike action). Hence, I am writing to all staff employed across the job families for whom UCU is the recognised Campus trade union and apologise to those of you who are not involved and who will continue to work normally.

The expected dates of strike action will fall across a period of four weeks as follows:

  • Thursday 20th and Friday 21st February 2020
  • Monday 24th to Wednesday 26th February 2020
  • Monday 2nd to Thursday 5th March 2020
  • Monday 9th to Friday 13th March 2020

In addition to the period of strike action, the ongoing action short of a strike will continue to run until no later than Wednesday 29th April 2020. UCU has stated that this action will include: working to contract; not covering for absent colleagues; not rescheduling lectures or classes cancelled due to strike, not sharing materials relating to lectures or classes cancelled as a result of strike action and not undertaking any voluntary activities.

I have to inform you that any member of staff who participates in strike action will be committing a breach of contract and a salary deduction will be made as outlined in the University’s Industrial Action Policy which can be found on the Human Resources – Industrial action webpage.

  • a deduction equivalent to a daily rate of 1/365th of annual salary will be made for each day of strike action for full-time members of staff.
  • a proportional deduction will be made equivalent to contractual hours that should have been worked on each day of strike action for part-time or hourly-paid members of staff.

Agreement has been reached with UCU to spread the strike pay deductions across March, April and May 2020.

The University will not withhold salary from members of staff who participate in action short of a strike where this action takes the form of working to contract. However, it should be noted that the University does not regard a refusal to re-schedule classes or refusal to share materials relating to classes as working to contract. Such action would be regarded as partial performance of duties and would result in pay deductions.

It is expected that those not taking part in strike action will attend work at the normal location and time. Normal absence reporting procedures should be followed.

Members of staff should be aware that the University is not obliged to make pension contributions for any scheme member when not attending work due to strike action and reserves the right not to do so. However, as a gesture of goodwill, the University will continue to pay employer contributions for participating scheme members. Similarly, employee pension contributions will be deducted as normal irrespective of any reduction in salary as a consequence of participation in industrial action. This will ensure continuity of pension scheme membership and life assurance benefits.

If you intend to take strike action on any of the dates noted above, I kindly request that you notify your Head of School, Director of Research Institute, Director of Professional Services or Head of Service accordingly by completing and returning the form below as soon as possible. I would also kindly ask that you notify the University of your intentions in advance in order to minimise unnecessary inconvenience to students.

I must remind you, however, that you are obliged in any case to inform the University if you have taken strike action on or after the event.

Senior managers will be asked to monitor attendance across the period of strike action and to confirm which members of staff participate. Clearly, we wish to ensure any such records are accurate and ask that you assist them by responding to any requests for information and by returning the form if you are taking strike action.

The University has previously communicated its position on both the USS pension changes and the 2018-19 pay settlement. The University is part of a national bargaining forum which determines pay rates across most of the UK university sector and, like UCU, is committed to national bargaining on both pay and pensions. This means that we are mutually bound by national agreements reached between employers and the UCU, and the University would like to see the national bargaining forum reconvene with a view to reaching agreement on a pay uplift for 2020-21 at the earliest opportunity.

We recognise the right of trade union members to take industrial action and will strive to maintain positive working relationships with UCU throughout the dispute. At the same time, we are concerned to limit any negative impact on students. Any industrial action on campus will not change the University’s position.

Further information, including the University’s Industrial Action Policy and FAQs, can be found on the Human Resources – Industrial action webpage. If you have any queries about this letter, please contact your College or University Services HR team.

Kind regards,

Christine Barr

Executive Director of Human Resources

First published: 19 February 2020