Information on the UCU strike action

The Universities and Colleges Union (UCU) have called a strike at 58 universities including the University of Leicester from Wednesday 1 December to Friday 3 December

UCU balloted their members over concerns regarding pensions and the ‘four fights’ – these being pay, casualisation, workload and inequality.  

In total, staff in 58 Universities are going on strike.  

Twenty-one Universities have chosen to strike over the four fights. Four other Universities have chosen to strike over pensions alone. The remaining 33 Universities will see staff striking on both matters. Staff at Leicester will be striking over the 'four fights'. 

As well as the three-day strike, staff at 64 universities (including Leicester) have a mandate to take action short of strike (ASOS) on the ‘four fights'. This will also begin on Wednesday 1 December and continue until Tuesday 3 May (or earlier if dispute resolved). For Leicester, this currently means only working to their contracts.

Note: Information taken from daily Wonkhe SUs briefings .

 

On this page you will find...
  • UCU & University positions on the strike action

  • UCU and University responses to questions from the SU

  • Button for the poll so you can have your say! This is open from 12pm on 25/11 to 6.30pm on 29/11

  • Answer to your frequently asked questions

 

If you have any questions, or want to chat further, please contact UCU or the University, respectively.

UCU & University positions on the strike action:

UCU and the University have provided statements as well as answers to the Executive Officer team's questions. Please read these before having your say on the poll below.

UCU and University responses to questions from the SU:

Will the strikes impact my exams? Will students be assessed on missed content?

UCU

Where assessments are still to be set, we will recommend to our members that they avoid assessing students on content they have not been taught

University

All assessments, including any in-person exams due to take place in the January assessment period will go ahead as planned. If an assessment is due to be submitted on a strike day then students should ensure that it is submitted by the published deadline. Marking will take place after the strike days. Heads of School will be asked to ensure that students are not assessed on any missed content.

Will the strikes impact my lectures, seminars, and tutorials?
UCU

Strike action—the collective withdrawal of labour—is considered a basic democratic right. Staff members who participate in strike action, currently scheduled for 1-3 December, will not carry out any of their work duties on those days, whether they were due to be involved teaching, research or administrative. The university will deduct three days' worth of pay from staff who participate in the strike.

This kind of action is not something university staff undertake lightly. We are doing so because we feel we are at breaking point. Our pay has fallen by over 17% since 2009. Workloads are unbearable for many staff. There are huge ethnicity, gender and disability pay gaps in UK universities. Large amounts of work is now being undertaken by staff on "precarious" contracts, with no certainty how long they will be employed.

This has implications for students. Our teaching conditions are your learning conditions, and we want to protect these. That’s why staff at 58 universities have voted for strike action and it is why the National Union of Students have voted to support us. The University and College Union (UCU) is asking for a £2.5k pay increase for all staff; an end to race, gender and disability pay injustice; a framework to eliminate zero-hours and other casualised contracts; and meaningful action to tackle unmanageable workloads.

University

The impact of the action is likely to vary in different schools. Staff are not required to tell the University in advance if they will be taking strike action, although they are encouraged to let students know. We cannot say at this stage which teaching events may be cancelled.

What happens if my lecturer is on strike?
UCU

If your lecturer is on strike, they will cancel any teaching activities during strike days. They will also be unavailable by email on those days. However, we welcome students contacting us to ask us why we’re taking action. So please do not hesitate to contact your lecturer by email outside of strike days or to come and visit us at the picket lines, which we will organise at entrances to the campus on strike days. We will also hold a series of "teach-outs", open to staff and students, where we will speak on a range of issues on which the UCU campaigns.

University

If your lecturer is on strike then any planned teaching events that they were due to deliver will not take place. It may not be possible to reschedule them but we will make every effort to do so. Your lecturer may choose to tell you that they are taking industrial action. If you require support when a particular member of staff is taking industrial action then you should contact your personal tutor, if they are available, or professional services staff in your School who will be able to advise. Support is also available from Student Support Services.

How will medical students be affected by the strikes?
UCU

The strike will also apply to staff who are UCU members and who are teaching medical students.

University

If your lecturer is on strike then any planned teaching events that they were due to deliver will not take place. It may not be possible to reschedule them but we will make every effort to do so. Your lecturer may choose to tell you that they are taking industrial action. If you require support when a particular member of staff is taking industrial action then you should contact your personal tutor, if they are available, or professional services staff in your School who will be able to advise. Support is also available from Student Support Services.

What is the University doing to mitigate the effects from the strikes?
UCU

By far the most important thing that the management of the University of Leicester could do to resolve these issues, and end the associated disruption for students, would be to urge Universities UK, the body that represents employers, to take seriously our demands. Unfortunately, the University of Leicester has a gender pay gap above the national average, has insisted that it cannot afford a pay rise for staff, and has not made sufficient progress on casualisation and workloads.

We regret the impact that strikes have on those we teach. However, we are striking to ensure that all students—current and future—get the education they deserve, and to ensure that we are able to carry out research of the highest possible standard. We think universities should be genuine learning communities, in which we can all be proud of our work, not "teaching factories" designed to extract the maximum profit out of students for the lowest possible cost. Sadly, those running higher education in the UK do not seem to agree with us.

University

Students will not be assessed on any content that is missed due to the strike action. Staff will be asked to reschedule cancelled teaching where possible. Some module content will be available online and lecture capture will be available for teaching events that go ahead or are rescheduled. Students can utilise module resources that are available on Blackboard and module reading lists. Support for students will be available from staff who are not participating in the industrial action and from Student Support Services.

Will this be anything like the marking boycott?
UCU

The UCU is not currently undertaking a marking and assessment boycott, although members voted for “action short of strike” including the possibility, in the future, of engaging in such action. Again, we hope that Universities UK will reach an agreement with us before this becomes necessary.

University

The planned industrial action does not include an assessment and marking boycott so your work will be marked as normal. If there are any slight delays, for example if marked work is due back on a strike day, your School should keep you informed.

Will students know in advance?
UCU

The UCU is legally obliged to inform the University of Leicester in advance of any strike action or action such as a marking and assessment boycott, so you should know well in advance.

We are also committed to working with the students' union to inform students of our actions. We appreciate the solidarity students have shown us. Few people come to work in a university for the money or the glamour! We do it because we care about learning, our own and that of our students. We hope students will continue to support us in our efforts to ensure that the University of Leicester is a place where students can study in the best possible conditions.

University

Staff are not required to notify the University in advance if they are taking industrial action although they are encouraged to let students know. So at this stage, we cannot say whether students will be notified that teaching will not take place.

How will you fill in the gaps?
UCU

N/A

University

Students can utilise module resources that are available on Blackboard and online resources, including recorded teaching sessions, where available. We will endeavour to reschedule as many teaching events as possible.

Click here for a PDF version.

 

 

Answers to your frequently asked questions:

Who is UCU?

UCU (Universities and Colleges Union) is a trade union representing the interests of University staff who have joined as members. UCU called the ballot for strike action and have released the terms upon which the strike could be ended.  

Who is UUK?

UUK (Universities UK) is the collective body representing the interests of Universities.  

Who is UCEA?

UCEA (Universities & Colleges Employers Association) represent Universities in national negotiations with trade unions, government bodies, funding councils and other relevant organisations.  

How Is Pay Negotiated?

Pay for University staff is negotiated at a national level by between UCEA and the five University sector trade unions, including UCU.

Should I submit my assessments if they are due to be submitted during the industrial action? 

You should submit all work by the published deadlines in line with the process your School advises. 

What are “picket lines?” 

A picket line is an area marked, usually at the entrance to a place of work. This area marks the space which striking staff ask others not to cross. You may see staff at the entrances to campus on strike days, with people holding placards and handing out information on why they are striking. Picket lines are friendly and peaceful demonstrations, so students have no cause for concern if you see one. 

Will the Library be open? 

The library will still be open as usual. Visit https://le.ac.uk/library/about/opening-hours for library hours and more information. 

Can I use my IT account? 

Your IT account will not be affected by the strikes. 

Is BUCS still taking place? 

BUCS will not be affected by the strikes and will be taking place as normal. 

Will Tier 4 Visa students be penalized if lectures or seminars are cancelled due to the strikes? 

Lectures, seminars and tutorials cancelled because of the strikes will not have an effect on the attendance requirements for Tier 4 Visas. 

Will Students’ Union services such as student activities, advice or representation be impacted by the strikes? 

All services run by the Students’ Union will remain open during strike days. 

What is the Students’ Union doing now? 

We will continue to liaise with relevant stakeholders to end this dispute - the University and the UCU. We will encourage them to work with national bodies such as UUK (Universities UK) and UCEA (The Universities and Colleges Employers Association) - to re-open negotiations and end the dispute, and to minimize the impact of strike action on your educational experience. 

What is action short of a strike? 

This means staff won’t be doing anything beyond what is required in their contract, including not covering for absent colleagues, working extra hours to clear workload or doing any voluntary activities related to their role 

Who will be striking? 

Not all staff will be on strike. UCU members have a mandate to strike, but staff who aren’t in a UCU don’t have a mandate to do so. Not all UCU members will necessarily choose to strike, but they have a legal mandate to do so if they wish. As lecturers don’t have to inform the University before going on strike, they won’t know exactly how many UCU members will strike. 

Am I entitled to a compensation from the University? 

You have a right to make a complaint via the University’s complaints system. If you want advice on how to make a complaint to the University, please contact advice@le.ac.uk and the Students’ Union Advice Service will be able to advise you on processes and your rights 

How can I have my say on what the Union does? 

We recognize this is a matter that many of you will have different views on. As a student-led Union, it is only right we give you a chance to have your say on a matter as important as this. We will launch a vote on November 25th at 10am, which will be open until 6.30pm on November 29th. The results and the subsequent action plan will then be communicated on November 30th. 

Where can I get more support and information?

We know that the prospect of industrial action will cause some students concern. If you are concerned about the impact on your studies or welfare, you can contact your school/department or the SU Advice Service (advice@le.ac.uk) who offer free and confidential support via email. You can also contact the Welfare Service (welfare@leicester.ac.uk 

 

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