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October, 2013:

New Workload Model Agreed

UCU and Managment have agreed a new workload model for academic staff. The policy document is available to download from Academic Workload Policy FINAL and the template document is available from  Academic Workload Scheme FINAL . Please feel free to leave comments against this post.

Strike Action 31st Oct – Information

 Please make sure that you come to the picket line.  It is very important that we show our collective unity on the picket line. Pickets will be arranged to cover both Stratford and Docklands campus between 7am – 2pm and will be arranged in three time slots 7-10; 9-12; 11-2. Please contact your UCU coordinator to let them know which picket duty slot you will be attending.

 Pickets on each site will be at:

 Optional Fancy Dress as it is Halloween (more…)


Anyone who thinks the change in 2010 was merely a rise in fees, and that things have settled down and will now carry on much as usual, simply hasn’t been paying attention. (Stefan Collini ‘Sold out’ in London Review of Books, 24/10/13) (more…)

Strike FAQs and guidelines on picketing

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).


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.

Practical matters

Prepare for all weathers and bring a mobile phone if possible.  You will be able to get refreshments and food on campus as usual.


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 for  Steve Martin is 07776 252 182

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 (e.g., 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.


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.

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.


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 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 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.


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 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.


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. UCU at UEL will be producing a leaflet for students why we feel it is necessary to take action which will be available shortly.


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 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.

Pay Ballot

UCU’s ballot on the pay offer in higher education closes this Thursday.  Please vote and ensure that your voice is heard by returning your ballot paper in the envelope provided.