Industrial Action 2022/23
Updates and information for staff on potential industrial action relating to UCU’s disputes regarding USS, Pay and working conditions.
The University and College Union (UCU) has secured a mandate for industrial action across many UK Universities in a ballot that closed in October 2022. The mandate is for both strike action and action short of a strike, on changes to USS and its ‘four fights’ of casualisation, gender, ethnicity and disability pay inequality, workload and the 2022/23 pay award.
UCU members have voted to take strike action (on a discontinuous basis) on the following dates:
- February: 1st, 9th, 10th, 14th, 15th, 16th, 21st, 22nd, 23rd, 27th, 28th
- March: 1st, 2nd, 16th, 17th, 20th, 21st, 22nd
UCU have also confirmed that action short of a strike will be continuous and effective from 23 November 2022. This action short of strike will include:
- Members working their contracted hours and duties and not volunteering to do more
- Not rescheduling classes and lectures cancelled due to strike action,
- Not covering for absent colleagues,
- Removing uploaded materials related to, and/or not sharing materials related to, lectures or classes that will be or have been cancelled as a result of strike action.
The University will enact contingency plans to mitigate disruption to the delivery of learning and teaching, and student experience whilst maintaining academic standards.
There is a dedicated webpage providing students with up-to-date information on the industrial action.
And a dedicated staff SharePoint site containing further useful information and the online declaration form:
The University’s commitment
We are committed to helping our colleagues save and plan for retirement. The USS pension scheme remains generous, even with the changes, and its flexibility reflects the needs of many colleagues. Via the negotiating bodies (UUK for pensions) we seek to ensure an offering which is responsible and affordable both in the short term for current members and for future members. The 2023 Triennial valuation process will begin with the valuation of scheme assets as at 31 March 2023. The formal process of valuation will take a number of months and we will be active participants in the consultation process seeking the best possible, but sustainable, outcome for staff.
The 2022/23 pay offer made by the Universities and Colleges Employers Association (UCEA) (ranging from 9% to 3%) was at the limit of affordability for universities and colleges nationally.
We continue to take opportunities to improve conditions for staff which are within our control. As a real living wage accredited employer, we have ensured staff receive a minimum of the real living wage of £10.90 per hour at the earliest opportunity and in November will introduce a smoothing of spine points 6, 7 and 8 to provide a differential between the grades. Furthermore we recently announced a joint Unions review of the grade scale within the University which will deliver options in May 2023. For more information on this, please see details of the University’s grade scale review statement.
On three of the other aspects of the UCU’s ‘four fights’ dispute, which are not nationally negotiated, we have made and continue to make significant progress, ahead of many of our peers in the sector:
- Casualisation: We have had an agreement in place with UCU since 2019 to ensure consistency of treatment for Guaranteed Hours staff in teaching and research-focussed roles. A review of adherence to this agreement has started to ensure we are meeting our commitments. We have set up a joint Union working group to review how we manage our large, mainly research-focussed, population employed on fixed-term contracts. This will initial outcomes in Spring 2023.
- Inequality: We have institutional level action plans on gender and race to increase the diversity of our workforce and address inequalities. We acknowledge that, while there have been small, incremental improvements over the last few years, our whole population average salary gender pay gap remains high at 15.99%, and this is reflective of the gender bias in some of our grades and roles. It is particularly impacted by the inclusion of our grade 10 population where the population is almost 70% male. When this senior management group is excluded, the average salary gender pay gap for grades 1 to 9 almost halves to 8.8%, falling the lower down the grades you go. More information on the current pay gaps can be found in our Equal Pay Report 2021 which can be found on our EDI webpages
- Workload: We already have in place collectively agreed workload allocation models for academics. We recognise and appreciate the discretionary effort that many of our staff give to the University to enable us to achieve our success.
To inform and support staff throughout this period, we have published further information on a dedicated SharePoint site to answer many of the queries you may have, whether you are choosing to take part in the industrial action or are looking for further information on how this may affect University operations. This includes information and guidance relevant to all staff and for line managers.
If you do choose to participate in the industrial action, either by taking strike action, or by choosing not to cross the picket line, you will be required to complete and submit an online declaration form, confirming your participation. A form will be made available on the dedicated SharePoint site from 1 February 2023 to cover strike dates from 1st February to 2nd March 2023. The form should be completed on your first day back at work following the strike action and at the latest by 5pm on Thursday 9th March 2023. A second form will be made available to cover strike dates from 16th to 22nd March 2023.
Impact of Other Sector Strike Action
If the announced strike dates by other Unions, such as teaching unions, have an impact on your ability to work please refer to the guidance provided here.
Please be aware that impact on staff caused by other sector strike action will be managed differently to staff participating in UCU strike action. If you are participating in UCU action please refer to the information for staff taking part in strike action.