Frequently Asked Questions - Strikes 2023
What is a strike or industrial action?
Industrial action is a term used when members of a trade union (in this case UCU) take action against their employer in protest, the most common action is to go on strike. Strike action is often considered a last resort after negotiations have failed. Staff who are on strike will not be paid for the duration of the industrial action.
What is a picket line?
A picket line is where workers and union reps (‘picketers’ or ‘pickets’) stand outside a workplace to tell other people why they are striking. It is used as a form of protest. This is to encourage other workers to show solidarity with the strikers by refusing to cross into the workplace. You may want to speak to those on picket lines to find out more about the industrial action.
There is official guidance on picket lines, and you should not be physically prevented from entering any university building. If you would like to find out more, check out Code of Practice on Picketing.
Who is striking?
Members of the UCU (Universities and Colleges Union). This isn't just full time-lectures, this includes lots of different members of staff and also students. PhD students who do casual teaching, library support staff, lab technicians. Anyone who provides support to students can be a member of UCU and therefore can strike.
Why are staff striking?
UCU are striking over 2 areas, one is pay and working conditions and the other is pensions. UCU are looking for substantially improved offers in all disputes.
Pay and Working conditions dispute - UCU is demanding a meaningful pay rise to deal with the cost-of-living crisis as well as action to end the use of insecure contracts.
Pension dispute - UCU are looking to reverse the cuts to pensions as 'the average member lose 35% from their guaranteed future retirement income'
Find out more about what why staff are striking at https://www.ucu.org.uk/news
How do the strikes affect me?
The university is working hard to ensure all teaching, exam invigilation, and other contact time progress as normal. Although the University is aware of a planned action across February and March, staff do not have to inform the University in advance that they intend to take industrial action, so this might not be possible in every case. You may find that you have a lecture or teaching session cancelled, or you might not be able to access support services in the same way as normal.
You should attend classes as normal unless you are told otherwise. Staff may choose not to strike on all industrial action days and it should not be assumed they will do so.
Will my attendance be recored and monitored during strike action?
The university will continue to monitor your attendance and academic engagement during the strike period.
If you are studying on a Student Visa, to remain compliant with sponsor duties, the university are still required to record your attendance during the strike.
Please be reassured that if your classes are cancelled during the days of strike action, this will not affect your attendance record; this isn’t classed as an unauthorised absence. If you have any concerns, please contact your school office who will advise.
Will my assessments be impacted?
Many staff members will be working as normal so you should continue to submit assignments by the specified deadlines and attended scheduled examinations. Your libraries, computer rooms, and other learning environments and services will be available as normal throughout the period to enable you to continue your studies and independent learning.
How to make a complaint about the impact of strike action?
If you feel that the steps the University the university has taken has not minimised the impact of your learning or that your studies were not able to continue without limited interruption, you can submit a complaint through the strike-related complaints process. Check out the Getting Support page, for how to submit a complaint.
If you can evidence that you have been disadvantaged by the strike action and that the university has fallen short of the promises it made, you may be entitled to partial tuition fee refund. We would recommend speaking to your Advice Team before exploring this option as this is quite complex and would require you to submit a complaint to the OIA.
How can I get advice?
Email us: You can send us an email with your enquiry to firstname.lastname@example.org. Sometimes queries are too complex to answer over email so if needed we will help you book an in appointment to speak to one of our advisors.
Referral: If you wish for one of our advisors to ring you at a time that suits you, you can self-refer via this form. We will aim to contact you within 2 working days however please note during busy periods it may take longer to contact to you. Please try to include as much detail and information as possible, including any key dates and all the questions you wish to be answered. This will enable the advisor to give to more specific and accurate advice.
Appointments: You can book an appointment at a time and date that suits you via our booking portal.
What rights do I have as a student?
The Office for Students (OfS) states that all students have a contractual relationship with their university, which means they are protected by consumer protection law. OfS is clear that the university must continue to offer the service they have promised to students, even during periods of industrial action.
The steps the university and each school will take to reduce the impact of the strike action will be depend on the type of disruption. However the OfS says you can expect the university to:
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