Industrial action – FAQs for students

Industrial action – FAQs for students

Issued: Mon, 12 Feb 2018 08:56:00 GMT

Who is in dispute and what is the industrial action about?

The dispute is a national one between Universities UK representing higher education institutions which have staff in the Universities Superannuation Scheme – USS – and the University & College Union – UCU – representing staff.  It centres on proposed changes to the USS pension scheme. UUK is concerned that the pension scheme is operating with a significant deficit, estimated at several billions of pounds, and wants to reduce the risk that employers are exposed to in the future. The UCU disputes the size of the deficit and wants to retain guaranteed levels of pension for academic and related staff. 

The strike action will happen if there is no satisfactory resolution reached between the UCU and Universities UK before 22 February. 

What is the University of Glasgow’s position?

The University of Glasgow has said it would like to retain the best possible terms for staff and is willing to pay higher employer contributions to achieve this – but that any agreement should be affordable to both employees and employers and must also be acceptable to the Pensions Regulator. Both the UCU and the University have called for a resumption of talks between the employers and the trade union. 

What form will the industrial action take? 

The UCU has called strike action on the following days:

  • Thursday 22nd February to Friday 23rd February 2018
  • Monday 26th February to Wednesday 28th February 2018
  • Monday 5th March to Thursday 8th March 2018
  • Monday 12th March to Friday 16th March 2018

Approximately 25% of academic and professional support staff are members of UCU. 

Some members of staff may choose to observe one or two days of strike rather than the whole period. 

In addition, UCU has also called upon its members to participate in ‘action short of a strike’ from 22 February until no later than 19 June 2018. This action will include – working to contract; not covering for absent colleagues; not rescheduling lectures or classes cancelled due to strike action and not undertaking any voluntary activities.

What action has the University taken locally?

The University has written to staff making clear that it respects the right to strike but that it wants to minimise any potential impact on students.  All members of staff have been asked to consider carefully before taking industrial action. 

The University will withhold pay for each day members of staff go on strike, but will not withhold pay from those who work to contract and who, for example, decline to take part in voluntary activities. 

Importantly, the university does not accept that members of staff have the right to refuse to reschedule classes where this is appropriate. As employer, the University has the right to require members of staff to prioritise teaching duties over other activities on days when they are not taking industrial action.  

Will students be told in advance if classes are to be cancelled?

The University has asked members of staff who intend to take industrial action to let us know in advance, but they are not legally required to do so. However, we expect most members of staff will inform their students if they intend to take industrial action to minimise inconvenience to them. 

What does this mean for students?

The University will open as normal throughout the strike. It is possible that some lectures, tutorials, seminars, lab work and assessments will be affected. 

More detailed information will be given directly to students at a local level as soon as this become available.

Will the library be open?

The library will be open as normal on all of the strike days. 

What if there are pickets at the university?

We expect that there will be picket lines at the main gate and possibly at other locations. The pickets will not prevent those people who want to go to work from doing so, or students from getting to and from classes and labs. 

Should I still show up to classes and tutorials that are scheduled?

Unless you are told otherwise, you should attend all classes as normal. 

What happens if a class or a scheduled assessment is cancelled? Could it impact on my degree?

The University will do all that it can to minimise the impact of any actions such as the cancellation of classes or class exams and will, where possible, offer alternative learning opportunities. 

Significant disruption would be required for industrial action to impact on your ability to progress and complete your studies.  We will be monitoring potential impact very closely and will provide advice to anyone who might be affected.   

What about deadlines that have already been set?

Deadlines may be moved, and again information will be communicated locally about this, but the best advice is to work to all deadlines that have already been set. If you have an assignment that is due to be submitted on a day that is designated for strike action, you should do so as normal.  You will be notified by the School/Research Institute of any variation from normal practice.

What about tuition fees – can I get a refund?

We do not believe that any student will be prevented from graduating on time because of the industrial action – consequently there are no plans to refund tuition fees. 

What will happen to the salary withheld from staff taking part in industrial action?

The University has not made a decision on this at present. However, we will use any withheld salary for the benefit of students. 

What happens after 19 March?

If there is no resolution to the dispute by 19 March (the time of the final planned day of industrial action) the union may seek an additional mandate for further industrial action. We are hopeful that our calls for further talks will be heeded by then and that a resolution will be reached that is acceptable to all parties.  

Where can I get more information?

Regular updates will be provided on MyGlasgow and further information will also be communicated through the University’s social media channels.  

Students with any specific concerns should seek advice from their tutors or the School/Research Institute office.