2020 Strike FAQs

10 February 2020
Why are we striking again?
Our November-December strike has proven to be very successful and this second strike will build on that achievement. Our local branch is stronger and bigger than it has been in years, and more people came out to strike in November and December than ever before. On the national level, the strike has forced our employers to the negotiation table and to negotiate with us on issues they were not willing to discuss before. However, the offers which they have made so far are not going far enough. Our negotiation team is convinced that if we show our determination, we can get a better offer on pay and the four-fight dispute, as well as on the USS dispute. Otherwise, we undermine the progress we have made so far and give the employers’ permission to load us up with more and more work for increasingly diminishing pay. Since December, a further 14 universities have voted to join us in this fight and so we enter this industrial action in greater numbers at the national level and, therefore, with even better negotiating power. It is possible that more institutions will join as they are re-balloted in the coming weeks.

Why now? Why not wait and strike during the assessment period?
While striking toward the end of the semester is perhaps more effective, anti-trade union legislation means that we are restricted in choosing our strike period. The October ballot which allows us to take industrial action now is about to expire in April. This means that until we ballot again, we can only take strike action in February and March.

Who takes the decision to strike? 
All negotiations with our employers and decisions on industrial action are taken by the UCU Higher Education Committee (HEC). The HEC is a democratically elected committee of UCU (in fact you will be receiving your ballot to vote for these representatives soon if you haven’t already). Once a serious offer will be presented by the employers, the HEC will consult all members on whether or not to continue with the strike.

What are the plans for the strike days?
We will soon post all of the activities on the Strike Action Programme page on our website, and we will update it frequently, so please check it on a regular basis.

What if I cannot afford to strike for the entire 14 days?
We ask all members to support the strike as much as they can and to make use of the Strike Fund if needed. However, if for any reason, you cannot strike for the entire period, we ask that you think strategically about when it is that you do strike. The purpose of the strike is to disrupt teaching and university business.

What should I tell my students?
We will circulate an email you can use as a template for writing to your students in the next few days. Please also ask them to get in touch with the Student Union, as they are having meetings with students and communicating with them about the strike. Most importantly, please be sure to tell your students that we do not consider going on strike lightly and that we are only using this extreme measure as a last resort. You can tell them that we lose pay for every day that we strike (most students are not aware of that), and that we share their frustration. You can also urge them to express their dismay by writing directly to University Management and to the VC.

Need to know more? See the National UCU FAQs for more information.