Senate House branch: ready for strikes


Thanks again for all of your feedback and support over the last few weeks. It’s not too late to join our picket line, just let us know by completing this form.

We’ve had some more questions since the meeting last week so here are some further FAQs:

1.      What does action short of a strike (ASOS) mean?

Action short of a strike in this dispute means we are asking you to work to contract and not undertake any voluntary activities. Action short of a strike begins at the same time as the strike action and continues until the union calls it off. It’s important to note that we’re not asking people to commit to partial performance – just to work to contract.

2.      I want to go on strike but feel anxious that people will think ill of me, and guilty because my colleagues might have more work to do while I am away. What should I do?
There is no reason to feel guilty about going on strike. You are exercising a legal right and will be doing nothing wrong. While there will be fewer people in the office during the strike, if UCU is successful in this industrial action the results will benefit all members of staff, including those colleagues who choose to stay in the office.

3.      If I strike for a few days, am I forced to strike for all 14 days?
No. You decide how much you can participate. As we’ve discussed with members, we’ll take each day as it comes. Let’s get the first two out of the way with as much support as possible and see what happens. Here’s hoping negotiations will resume once the pressure starts.
4.      My colleague isn’t in the Union, can they strike?
Yes, management has confirmed that they absolutely respect the right of individuals to choose whether or not to cross the picket line. UCU has encouraged all members of staff to join UCU in the strike action.
5.      Am I in breach of my contract if I go on strike?
Yes, all industrial action is a potential breach of contract. However, UCU has carried out a legal ballot and the action has been formally called, the law protects workers from dismissal whilst taking part in lawful industrial action or at any time within 12 weeks of the start of the action and, depending on the circumstances, dismissal may also be unfair if it takes place later. This kind of dismissal has never happened in higher education.
6.      Does this just affect academics?
No. This attack on USS is a smash and grab raid on all of our university pensions. This will not only affect lecturers and academics. Student Service, Library, IT, and other support roles deserve a fair pension too. Universities run on their hard work, professionalism, and expertise.
7.      When will the action be called off?
UCU has called the action because of the employers’ failure to reach an agreement with us to protect pensions. We would prefer a negotiated solution to having to take industrial action. However, while the employers’ current proposal to end the guaranteed USS pension would mean a loss of around £10,000 a year in retirement, they are not currently prepared to enter meaningful negotiations. UCU believes that only sustained, disruptive action will bring the employers back to the table. The action is kept under review at all times by the Higher Education Committee.