News Article

Statement of Support for UCU Action

On Thursday 17th November, Union Council received a motion for UCASU to support the upcoming University and College Union (UCU) Industrial Action. Read more about what this means for you.

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STATEMENT

On Thursday 17th November, Union Council received a motion for UCASU to support the upcoming University and College Union (UCU) Industrial Action. This motion was unanimously approved by all present Union Council members at an emergency meeting called that evening. We, therefore, have formally moved to actively support members of UCU with their movement and associated Industrial Action.

Below you will find more information about the strikes, how you can get involved and some FAQs to explain what this means for you. By supporting the Industrial Action, we hope to demonstrate our commitment to ensuring that your academic experience and your academic staff team are supported to achieve their aims to meet your needs as students.

In solidarity,
Sol & Foysal

On behalf of UCASU

 

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?

UCU’s higher education committee (HEC) met on 3rd November following the industrial action ballot where UCU members overwhelmingly voted in favour of strike action. HEC voted for three days of strike action on Thursday 24th, Friday 25th and Wednesday 30th November. In addition action short of a strike (ASOS) will take place on Wednesday 23rd November, until further notice. 

UCU members were balloted on two key issues: 

1. Pensions

2. Pay and working conditions. 

UCA UCU members will be striking around issue 2; pay and working conditions.

 

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

To help you understand why this is happening, what it means for you and how you can show support, we have included some FAQs below: 

Who are the UCU?

UCU are The University and College Union, an education trade union representing 120,000 members who work in universities, colleges, prisons, and adult education and training organisations in the UK. 

 

Why is the industrial action taking place? 

University and Colleges Employers Association (UCEA) made a final offer, advising higher education institutions (HEIs) to implement a 3% pay increase. This was seen as well below the rate of inflation meaning a real term pay cut for staff during a cost of living crisis. UCEA are the main body with whom UCU negotiates over pay and working conditions. 

 

What is ‘action short of a strike’ (ASOS)? 

ASOS means demonstrating strike action on non-full strike days but still carrying out core duties. It includes:

  • working to contract

  • not covering for absent colleagues

  • removing uploaded materials related to, and/or not sharing materials related to, lectures or classes that will be or have been cancelled as a result of strike action

  • not rescheduling lectures or classes cancelled due to strike action

  • not undertaking any voluntary activities.

 

What will happen on full strike days?

There will be a picket in Canterbury on Thursday 24th November and a picket in Farnham on Friday 25th November. On Wednesday 30th November, a national demonstration is planned to take place in London in conjunction with the NUS. 

UCA UCU members who choose to strike will not be working on full strike days, they may be on the picket line or off campus. 

 

What happens if my lecturer is striking? 

Striking members aren’t under obligation to let UCA management know if they’re going on strike, so it could mean that your classes are cancelled on 24th, 25th or 30th November, however, UCA will endeavour to cover lectures. Updates will be communicated via email or on myUCA.

 

Do those striking on full-strike days still get paid?

No. Strike action is viewed as a breach of contract. 

 

What is a picket line?

A picket line is located outside a workplace where people (‘pickets’ or ‘picketers’) gather to let others know why they are striking. As part of the government’s Code of Practice, there can be up to six official ‘picketers’ who are usually identified with an armband. 

 

Can I join the picket line as a student?

Students can show support by standing near on or near the picket line but they can’t be official ‘picketers’; that is reserved for UCU members. On the picket line, you cannot physically prevent others from crossing the line, nor can you use threatening or abusive behaviour. 

Because this dispute is between UCU members and their employer (UCA), you are not undermining the strike by crossing the picket line. 

 

What happens if I support the strikes and don’t attend lectures?

If a lecture has been planned to go ahead and you don’t attend, you will be marked as absent. 

 

When is the national demonstration and can I take part? 

UCU has planned a national demonstration in London on Wednesday 30th November, beginning at 1pm in Kings Cross. Everyone is invited from UCU members to their families and friends and also students. We will share more information on our social media channels nearer the time, and we hope that if you can, you’ll join us in supporting UCA UCU members at the demonstration.

 

How will I know what is happening? 

You will receive communication from UCA to your student emails regarding the action to ensure that you are aware of any changes that affect your course, so be sure to keep an eye on your UCA emails.

We understand that industrial action may cause anxieties or other stresses in some, so we would urge you to contact the UCA support services, or head to Gateway on your campus if you are feeling overwhelmed about it all.

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