Strike FAQs

Strike FAQs (updated 10/02/2020)

Why are we striking again?

The first strike has proven to be very successful. Our local branch is stronger and bigger than it has been in years, and more people came out to strike 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 would have very little to show for from our first strike.


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. 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.


I am about to join UCU, but was not a member when the strike was called. Can I join the strike?

As soon as you become a member you have the right to strike (even if you joined after the strike was called).


I am on probation; will going on strike have a negative impact on me?

If you are a UCU member you have the legal right to strike in officially sanctioned industrial actions.  Striking should have no negative impact on your employment or on your Confirmation in Post.


I am a teaching assistant or a demonstrator, am I eligible to strike? Am I in danger of losing my job if I do?

As a Union member you are protected by law from being penalised for striking in any way, except for a deduction of your pay for your strike days.


I am an international staff member on a work visa, will striking jeopardise my visa?

According to the new Home Office regulations, employers are no longer asked to report on the absence of staff on work visas due to strike days. International staff are therefore not in risk of losing their visas when participating in strike action.


Do I strike only on days when I am teaching?

Strike action is not limited to certain activities – if you are striking then you should not be doing any work for the employer. This includes meeting with students, participating in meetings, presenting in seminars/conferences/public talks, answering emails or doing any administrative work.


My line manager is asking me if I intend to go on strike, how should I respond?

You are under no obligation to share your plans to strike.  The objective of a strike is to disrupt, declaring your intention will reduce the impact and effectiveness of industrial action. You are only obliged to declare which days you were on strike retrospectively.


I am participating in an event away from the university during the strike days, should I attend?

If you are representing the university or are attending in your capacity as an academic, then you should not attend.


Will I be able to get compensation for the deduction in pay for the strike days?

There are both local and national strike funds that offer partial reimbursement for the pay deducted for the days you strike. A relatively low cap is put on claims, as they are in place to alleviate hardship, not to offer full compensation for lost pay.  Further details regarding how you can apply to these funds will be circulated in due course. Also, there is a local hardship fund which is available to members who need financial support during the strike.


Are UCU members in Queen’s striking despite the relatively low response rate in the strike ballot?

Yes, the law in Northern Ireland does not condition the ability of unions to strike based on ballot participation.


Is this relatively low response rate in the strike ballot any indication of the willingness of members in Queen’s to participate in the strike?

From our experience, the ballot response rates do not serve as an indicator for the willingness of our members to participate in the strike. We had a similar response rate to the ballot leading up to the 2018 strike and that did not translate into a low engagement with that strike.