Human Resources

General information for all staff

General information about the action called by UCU.

In October 2019, members of the University of Edinburgh branch of University and Colleges Union (UCU) took part in two separate ballots which resulted in votes in favour of strike action and action short of a strike.  

This action is in support of UCU’s disputes regarding the joint unions’ 2019/20 pay claim and the increase in member contributions to the Universities Superannuation Scheme. 


Strike action dates:

UCU took eight days of strike action, on both pay and pensions, on 25, 26, 27, 28, 29 November 2019 and 2, 3, 4 December 2019.

Action short of a strike, on both pay and pensions, began on 25 November 2019.

A further 14 days of strike action, over three weeks, on both pay and pensions, has been called as follows:

Week One: four days; Monday 24 - Thursday 27 February, inclusive
Week Two: five days; Monday 2 - Friday 6 March, inclusive
Week Three: five days; Monday 9 – Friday 13 March, inclusive.


University response to the dispute

The University understands the strength of feeling amongst staff. We fully support benefits for staff that make Edinburgh an even better place to work, and these include fair pay and a secure pension. However, the sector overall faces a challenging economic environment, so these benefits need to be affordable and sustainable over the long term.

Pay and pensions are negotiated by UK-wide bodies on behalf of universities across the sector.  For universities and colleges, the pay offer made by UCEA (between 1.8% and 3.65%) was at the limit of affordability. On the USS pension scheme, the most recent negotiations between UCU and Universities UK concluded with the protection of existing benefits. This came with increased costs and employers are already paying – and will continue to pay – the great majority of the extra contributions required under pension law. This again is at the limit of affordability for the sector.  For the University of Edinburgh, the recent increases in employer contributions to USS (from 18.0% to 21.1.%) have already added approximately £9.6 million to our annual costs.

We hope that further national negotiations between the sector and UCU can resolve the dispute without further industrial action.


University actions to minimise disruption

We acknowledge that UCU has a mandate for industrial action and that its members have the right to take part in the strike action and/or action short of a strike if they so wish.  Whilst we acknowledge these rights, the University has the right, and duty, to take appropriate steps to minimise the disruption to our students. 

We will also ensure that staff who are not impacted by the dispute, and those who are, but do not want to take part in the action, can go about their daily activities.

Contingency plans will be put in place, with a focus on minimising disruption to our students, their learning and general experience.

Staff in student facing roles will therefore be asked and expected to prioritise teaching and student support and well-being over other activities, including non-essential research.   

Whilst recognising that union members are not obliged to disclose their intentions in advance, we do have the right to ask about these intentions and hope that staff will be willing to disclose both their intention to take strike action and action short of a strike. Such disclosure will be treated in confidence and solely for the purposes of putting in place appropriate plans to mitigate the impact of industrial action on our students.

The University will withhold pay from any member of staff who is absent without prior approval on strike days.  More information on this and the University’s approach to action short of strike can be found on the information page for staff taking part in the action.

Information page for staff taking part in the action

Staff will therefore need to ensure they have approval to be on annual leave or working somewhere other than their normal place of work on strike days before each day of strike action takes place.  More information can be found on the information page for staff not taking part in the action.

Information page for staff not taking part in the action


Further information

UCU is currently consulting its branches on the proposals made by the Universities and Colleges Employers Association (UCEA) in the hope of resolving the 2019/20 pay dispute.  A summary of the enhanced offer can be found on UCEA’s website.

UCEA's Website

UCU Edinburgh has information and resources on its website for members and students:

UCU Edinburgh