Strike FAQS

If you have a question that is not answered here, please email ucu@bathspa.ac.uk. We will do our best to reply to you and/or update this FAQ.

 

  1. Why should I strike?

  2. I can’t afford to strike. What can I do? How much money will I lose?

  3. I am a member of UCU, but didn’t vote for strike action. Can I not strike?

  4. Why are we striking for 14 days?

  5. I am close to retirement. Will striking affect my pension?

  6. Do I have to tell my employer I am going on strike in advance?

  7. Am I breaking my contract by taking strike action?

  8. What if I am part time?

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

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

  11.  What is action short of strike?

  12.  What about my students?

  13.  What do I say to students?

  14.  Can students join the picket line?

  15.  What are teach-outs? Can we do them?

  16.  Can I reschedule my teaching?

  17.  What am I expected to do during a strike?

  18.  What is the law on picketing?

  19.  How do I get involved?

  20.  I am not a UCU member. Can I take part in the strike?

1. Why should I strike?

Strike action is never taken lightly. It is a measure of the last resort when every other avenue of influence and negotiation has been exhausted.

Strike action can be very effective. For instance in 2014-15 the strikes resulted in a 2% pay increase on ALL spine points, and an uplift of the lowest spine points to achieve the living wage. It is most effective when we all strike together. Unity is our greatest strength.

 

2. I can’t afford to strike. What can I do?

There is a strike fund members can apply to which aims to help alleviate some of the financial loss: 

Strike Fund

 

Taking strike action is never an easy option, but the below inflation pay rises we have received over the past few years have cost you more.

 

The more people make the strike visible, particularly in the first days of industrial action, the higher the chance that the employers (UCEA) will re-open negotiations and for UCU to call off the strike.

 

If you strike on all days, your loss of earnings will be:

  • February: 4 out of 20 working days 

  • March: 9 out of 22 working days

3. I am a member of UCU, but didn’t vote for strike action. Can I not strike?

Strike action is a very serious action, and it is important every member observe the strike. Members who do not are directly undermining the Union’s bargaining power and making it harder for UCU to protect all its members. You would also be undermining other colleagues who are making sacrifices to fight for better conditions.

4. Why are we striking for 14 days?

The HEA have voted for 14 days across striking institutions. The concern is that striking for fewer days would infer a different level of commitment to the causes across different HE institutions and would suggest a lack of solidarity. Strength in numbers is more than just a soundbite.

 

5. I am close to retirement. Will striking affect my pension?

Please go to this link which explains whether striking will affect your pension if you are retiring in the next few years: https://www.ucu.org.uk/strikesandpensions 

 

 

6. Do I have to tell my employer I am going on strike in advance?

You should not tell your employer whether you plan to take industrial action in advance of the date when action begins. Doing so will enable them to minimise any disruption the action aims to cause and therefore undermine the dispute. In order to fulfil legal requirements, employers have been provided with statistical information about UCU members taking industrial action, but not individual names. However, if your manager asks you after the strike whether you took action, you should answer truthfully. You should not, however, respond to any such query while you are on strike. 

7. 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.

8. 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.

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

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

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

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.

11. What is action short of strike?

Working to contract; refusing to take on any voluntary activities; withdrawing, where possible, from activities relating to the REF, TEF, the new Knowledge Exchange Framework (KEF), and the National Student Survey (NSS). 

Action short of a strike

Further information on voluntary activities

Working to contract

12. What about my students?

Staff matter too! Happy staff make happy students. Overstretched, stressed, and exhausted staff make the opposite. The heavy work burden increasingly placed on staff (contact hours, large class sizes, growing administrative burdens, poor systems, student wellbeing, customer climate/student satisfaction, and declining levels of pay) is causing widespread burnout. A demoralised and overworked lecturer has less to give their students. 

 

The point of industrial action is to cause disruption. Nobody wants students to suffer, but if there is no disruption, there is no point to a strike. This action comes only after years of not being listened to by employers.

This is also a chance to educate students about the reality of what staff are facing and what Union action means.

13. What do I say to students?

You can tell them that NUS is fully supporting UCU. See the joint UCU/NUS statement here. UCU has also produced a video for you to share with your students and leaflets you can share with students on the USS [34kb] and the pay & equality [140kb] disputes.

 

14. Can students join the picket line?

Yes! The NUS is behind the Strike and will be communicating directly with students. Students at the picket line also sends a strong message to Management.

 

15. What are teach-outs? Can we do them?

A Teach-out is a form of protest like a teach-in, except that it happens off campus, because we’re on strike.

Teach-outs

16. Can I reschedule my teaching?

If you are involved in action short of a strike (as BSU@UCU currently is) then you should not reschedule teaching affected by strike action. 

17. 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 into work and do not reschedule their classes. The best possible thing you can do is contact your local rep and volunteer to help out on the picket lines. It isn’t illegal, it isn’t dangerous and it can be fun.

 

18. 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:

  1. UCU members in dispute

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

  3. Visitors to the picket are entirely lawful but should not form an official part of the pickets and should not, for example, be given armbands.

Further detailed advice on the picket lines will be issued separately.

19. How do I get involved?

The committee needs help. If you think you can please contact the committee on ucu@bathspa.ac.uk

 

A doodle poll will be circulated shortly so that you can sign up for picket line duty. 

  1. I am not a UCU member. Can I take part in the strike?

We would like everyone to respect the picket lines and not go into work, but if you are not a UCU member we will not be able to support you if the college decides to take disciplinary action against you. However, it is your general support that counts—if you can get permission from your line manager to take annual leave or work from home, this would be support.

20. I am not a UCU member. Can I take part in the strike?

We would like everyone to respect the picket lines and not go into work, but if you are not a UCU member we will not be able to support you if the college decides to take disciplinary action against you. However, it is your general support that counts—if you can get permission from your line manager to take annual leave or work from home, this would be support.

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