University of East London UCU Rotating Header Image

February, 2020:

Industrial Action 2020 – communicating with students

Communicating with students

Our members on the picket line felt that not all students were informed about our dispute and action. We suggest sending this message to all students on your modules.

‘As part of the dispute between UCU (University and College Union) and UCEA (the universities’ employer body), members of academic staff at UEL have been taking industrial action alongside 73 other Universities.

This includes strike action, planned for:

24th, 25th, 26th February
2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th March
9th, 10th, 11th, 12th, 13th March
16th, 17th March

UCU members will not be working on these dates.

UCU is taking industrial action to address the following grievances:

• women are paid on average 15.1% less than men
• the disability pay gap is 8.7%
• black academic staff earn 12-13% less than white colleagues of the same gender and experience
• salaries have fallen against inflation by over 20% since 2009
• academic staff work over 50 hours during a typical week
• Over 100,000 staff are employed on fixed-term contracts, and a further 70,000 are employed on other casual contracts.

The UCU’s industrial action is intended to force the employers who run higher education to improve the situation in four specific areas:

• Inequality
• Casualisation
• Workload
• Salaries.

In addition, UCU members will be taking action short of a strike – and will be refraining from voluntary duties, cover and out-of-hours activities until our dispute is resolved.

You can see further information on the UCU dispute from the National Union of Students here:

Great first week of strike action

The first three days of strike action saw a strong picketing presence at all three sites. Thank you to everyone who came to the picket line. Management are watching closely to see if the action is supported – we ask all members to come to help on the picket line. Together we are strong!

First day of strike



This site gathers together key information for UCU members at UEL.

In particular, we encourage members to check this site during the industrial action – UCU will not be posting to work emails during strike action.

UCU strikes 2020 – important information

Strike action:

UEL UCU will be striking on:

Monday 24th February
Tuesday 25th February
Wednesday 26th February
Monday 2nd March
Tuesday 3rd March
Wednesday 4th March
Thursday 5th March
Monday 9th March
Tuesday 10th March
Wednesday 11th March
Thursday 12th March
Friday 13th March
Monday 16th March
Tuesday 17th March
On every strike day there will be UCU pickets at Docklands, Water Lane and USS from 7.30am to 11.30am. Please make every effort to attend pickets. We are running a series of teachouts and other activities at picket-lines.

If you would like to offer a session or contribute to a themed day, please contact us at
Please also share the schedule for teachouts with students – this document will continue to be updated throughout the strike.
PLEASE DO NOT RESCHEDULE YOUR TEACHING. This is strike-breaking and makes striking colleagues more vulnerable.
Picketing guidelines:

If you have never picketed before – please do not worry. Picketing is an opportunity to publicise our case, speak to colleagues (including non-academic colleagues) and students and to let the wider community know what our dispute is about.
There will be UCU committee members at all three sites. You may find it helpful to read these picketing guidelines. Pickets for recent UCU disputes have been very good-humoured. We hope to see you there.
Strike pay:
UCU is providing strike pay, with priority being given to lower paid and precarious colleagues. See details here:
International students:
Please forward this advice to your international students.
Page 97 of the guidance for Tier 4 sponsors makes it clear that absences due to industrial action do NOT count towards the 10 consecutive absences that students are allowed to have before they reported. What should students do in this situation to show that they were ready and available to attend classes that were strikebound?
The usual obligation on sponsoring educational institutions is to report a student who misses 10 consecutive expected contact points.  However, this does not apply to those students who miss an expected contact point due to industrial action by lecturers. The rationale for this is that ‘An expected contact point is one which the student would in principle have been able to attend. If a lecture, tutorial or other planned contact point with a student is cancelled due to industrial action, any missed contact points caused by the industrial action of lecturers should not be treated as unauthorised absences.’  (See page 97 of Tier 4 of the Points Based System: Guidance for Sponsors, document 2: Sponsorship Duties.)
Action Short of a Strike:

UCU will be taking Action Short of a Strike (ASOS) as part of this dispute.

While a strike is a concerted stoppage of work, action short of a strike (ASOS) is normally action which affects only certain aspects of your work. Since the changes introduced by the Trade Union Act 2016 we have to determine and ballot members regarding the types of action short of strike we are calling. Action short of a strike in these disputes means we are asking you to:

work to contract
not cover for absent colleagues
not reschedule lectures or classes cancelled due to strike action
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.
More about working to contract here:

February 2020 – update on local dispute negotiations

UEL Dispute meeting – stage two – 13/2/20


For the employer: Amanda Broderick, Peter Gregory, Hassan Abdulla, David Douglas, Andrea Diable (note taker HR)

For UCU: Barry Jones, Jill Daniels, Gargi Bhattacharyya

Key points agreed as route to resolving dispute:

They reiterated that the current student-facing calendar can’t be changed this year. A published student calendar is required for students to apply for student loans.

University agreed instead to commit additional resources to addressing ‘pinch points’ in academic workloads in this session. UCU to provide advice on timing and areas where this is urgent;

UCU and the employer will co-operate to create a staff calendar that takes the requirements of the national contract as its basis and includes provisions to address UCU concerns. This will form the basis of academic planning and staffing planning going forwards. The emergency funding for this session is to address issues arising from both calendar and poor/nonexistent workload planning – therefore UCU also needs to identify pinch points that are arising independently of the calendar;

UCU will begin discussion with the employer on the evolution of a new workload model that is a consistent scheme across the University and includes the range of academic tasks and specifies time required to carry out all tasks in our workloads. This workload model will be used to plan both workloads and staffing going forwards;

We spoke about unevenness across the university and the need to enforce agreements in all areas. UCU continues to welcome the thoughts of members on this issue.

UCU@UEL teachout schedule February and March 2020

This schedule will be updated – please keep checking to see new events.

If you would like to contribute an event or activity, please contact Gargi at