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UCU Guidance for Strike and Picketing



It is very important that we have a strong visible presence on November 30 please don’t stay at home – come along and support your union and show your anger at the attack on our pensions and the government failure to negotiate.

Thanks to everyone who has said they are coming to the picket line: I have not had time to acknowledge all offers but look forward to seeing you on the day.

 It is very important that we have a strong visible presence on November 30 please don’t stay at home – come along and support your union and show your anger at the attack on our pensions and the government failure to negotiate.

 If you have not let me know you are coming yet please do shortly but we will also welcome colleagues coming on the day. We start at 7.00am and will finish at 7.00pm – need more help for the early shifts if possible. Please come to the DLR picket and we will decide then where you will needed.

 We will be holding three pickets, DLR, car park barrier and the footpath along the river. We will try to rotate pickets across these three pickets. Please confirm attendance as per request below to text my mobile number.

 Key information is provided below of what to expect if you have not attended a picket line before and the strike in general.  It is crucial that all members are on strike next week and are prepared to lose a pay in support of this protest and YOUR union.

 Strike FAQs and guidelines on picketing

First, here is the contact mobile telephone number for the Docklands picket: 07717 742886. I am the named person from UCU for the day. Please can you all send a text message to my mobile so we have contact and confirm finally the time you would like to come.

 What am I expected to do during a strike?

Your union will only take strike action once every other avenue of influence has been exhausted and when your branch officers think there is no other way to make members’ views clear. It is a very serious sanction and that’s why we ask that every member observes the strike. Every member who does not observe the strike is directly undermining the union’s bargaining power and making it harder for the union to protect all its members. When we call a strike we ask that members do not come to work and do not reschedule their classes. We also ask that members do not use email or log on to the University system. The best possible thing you can do is to volunteer to help out on the picket lines. It isn’t illegal, it isn’t dangerous and there is a real sense of solidarity present.

 Do I have to tell my employer that I am taking strike action?

In order to fulfil legal requirements, employers have been provided with statistical information about UCU members taking industrial action but not individual names. You are under no obligation to inform management in advance as to whether you will be taking part in strike action or action short of a strike. However, if the university asks you after the strike whether you took action, you should answer truthfully.

 What about my students?

We are a union of professionals and we know that our members don’t like taking any action that affects students. It is the same for many public services. However, when we take action, we are generally making a case for greater investment in or defence of the quality of the service we provide. In the case of job cuts, for example, we argue that our students will be hurt far more by management’s actions than by our own. Observing the strike is defending the interests of staff and students alike. Undermining the strike might feel like the right thing in the short term but will only serve to encourage management and we will all suffer more in the longer term. Formally, it is management’s responsibility to explain to students if classes are to be cancelled on strike days. However, you may wish to talk to your students before the strikes explaining why the union is taking this action and if taking a scheduled class on that day obviously advise your students that you will not be present.

 Am I breaking my contract by taking strike action?

All effective industrial action may be a breach of your contract of employment. But because UCU has carried out a statutory ballot and the action has been formally called, the law protects workers from dismissal whilst taking part in lawful industrial action.

 How much money will I lose?

You should expect to have a day’s salary deducted for taking part in the strike. Some

institutions state that 1/260th of your annual salary will be deducted for each day of action. Any loss greater than this may be challenged by the union.

 What if I am part-time?

UCU believe that any deduction must be pro-rata for part time staff. The deduction must only be for your contracted hours. Please contact UCU for support in challenging any greater loss.

 How will it affect my pension?

In previous one-day strikes it has been the experience of UCU that most university employers do not withhold superannuation contributions and therefore participation in strike action has not generally affected pensions. Also, institutions that do choose to withhold contributions often make provision for members to make up pension and AVC deficits from their pay. If you are concerned about any effect, contact Geraldine Egan at UCU (

 What is the law on picketing?

Peaceful picketing is entirely legal. Picketing should be carried out at or near an entrance or exit from a site at which the pickets work. When others who are not in dispute come into work or use these entrances or exits, pickets must not interfere with them. The legal categories of people permitted to picket are:

 · UCU members in dispute;

· Former employees who have lost their jobs for reasons connected to the dispute;

· UCU officials and NEC members supporting members in dispute, providing they are accompanying union members who work at the location.

 I am a Research Fellow fully funded by external bodies but I don’t want to cross the picket line.

If you are a UCU member please join the picket line! If you are not, try to arrange to work from home.

 I am a clinician and a UCU member, and I have clinical commitments on strike day. What can I do?

We fully understand that clinical staff including medics and psychologists have professional commitments to provide clinical cover. Clinicians are advised not to withdraw from any commitment to direct clinical care and activities in support of such. Any clinician concerned about the definition of these terms is advised to contact their own professional defence organisation, and ask them to contact the relevant professional body (eg the GMC) on their behalf. The UCU will therefore respect this. A clinician who intends to strike should be aware that this will only count as lawful action as part of the UCU strike and if s/he is a UCU member.

 Guidelines on picketing

The point of the picket is to peacefully persuade members not to cross our picket lines i.e. to not go into work. Picketing is a legal activity and pickets should wear an armband indicating they are on duty. Placards and posters should be displayed stating ‘OFFICIAL PICKET’. Mobile numbers of the picket organisers should be available on the day. The telephone number is 07717 742886.

 Practical matters

Dress warmly, hat and gloves. Bring protection in case of rain. Bring a picnic and maybe a flask though we will be able to go inside to get hot drinks.

 Approaching people

All UCU members should be on strike with the exception of members with clinical commitment. You should talk to anyone, a UCU member, work colleague, or member of the public who approaches the picket line. Give them a leaflet and explain the reason for the strike and ask them to support the campaign. Anyone who decides to cross a picket line must be allowed to do so. But always take the opportunity to talk to them and explain the reasons for the industrial action. Those workers who wish to cross the picket line should be asked not to undertake any duties or responsibilities other than their own i.e., not to cover for us.

 Speaking to people who are not university staff or students

You can seek to persuade other workers, not employed at the university or college, not to deliver goods or to enter the work premises, e.g., post, milk, stationary supplies. For example (this is the only form of permitted ‘secondary’ action).

 Hope to see you all next week.

In solidarity,


Jacqui – UCU, University of East London

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