Disruption from Strike Action - Academic Year 2021/22


This is our hub of information about the UCU strikes taking place in December 2021.

Last updated Monday 22nd November 2021

 

About the strike

Staff across the UK who are members of the University and College Union (UCU) will be taking strike action over the next few months, this includes 3 days of strikes in December plus Action Short of Strike from 1st December till 3rd May 2022. 

The UCU represents over 110,000 academics, lecturers, trainers, instructors, researchers, managers, administrators, computer staff, librarians, and postgraduates in universities, colleges, prisons, adult education, and training organisations across the UK.

 

On Tuesday 16th November 2021, it was announced that UCU at Greenwich voted in favour of strike action and action short of strike.

UCU are calling on the employers to

  1. address the scandal of the gender, ethnic, and disability pay gap
  2. end contract casualisation and rising job insecurity
  3. tackle the rising workloads driving our members to breaking point
  4. increase to all spine points on the national pay scale of £2,500.

You can read more about the "Four Fights" Campaign on UCU's Website here: www.ucu.org.uk/hedisputes

Members of UCU across the University of Greenwich will be striking for three days in December and taking Action Short of Strike (ASOS) for the whole period of the strike window (Dec 1st - May 3rd).

Trade union legislation requires unions to describe the ASOS they intend to take on ballot papers. You will generally see on your ballot paper that UCU list the following as ASOS:

  1. working to contract
  2. not covering for absent colleagues
  3. not rescheduling lectures or classes canceled due to strike action
  4. not undertaking any voluntary activities
  5. a marking and assessment boycott.

UCU nationally is re-balloting at other universities that did not achieve enough votes to strike, however as Greenwich UCU passed this the first time, they can take strike action at any time in the window up till 3rd May.

So far the full strike days confirmed are: 

  • Wednesday 1st December 
  • Thursday 2nd December
  • Friday 3rd December 

 

The University have produced an information page on the strike.  

What is Campus like during a strike? 

The campus is often lively and you may come across "pickets". These are usually around the entrances to campus buildings where staff and students supporting the strike will stand with banners talking to passers-by about why they are on strike. It is important to know not all staff will be on strike. This means you might not be affected by the action at all. If your lecturer is on strike then you may turn up to campus for teaching and not have anyone there to teach you. If this happens, all support services, library spaces, and student union outlets are happy to house you for independent or group study.    

Although pickets can feel daunting, they will not stop you from entering the buildings you want to however they may want to talk to you, be chanting, singing, or dancing to draw crowds. We encourage you to learn about the strikes and unions as well as to reach out for support should you feel overwhelmed. 

To help you, we have prepared a set of FAQs at the bottom of this page.

 

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Comment from your GSU Officers

Officers sat on a picnic bench, looking to camera
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We, as GSU officers, respect UCU’s decision in exercising their democratic right to strike and take strike short of action. We value the dedicated time and efforts of our academic staff and empathise with the challenges their members face.

We do recognise, however, that the past 20 months have been a challenging time for everyone, including students, who have endured difficult learning conditions. As students' union representatives, the interests of our members are our foremost priority and we would like to see them enjoy a more stable learning experience with minimal disruption, especially with many having left their homes in seeking this experience.

We ask that the University and UCU continue to engage in dialogue to discuss the facilitation of more favourable working conditions that allow them to perform to the best of their capabilities and, in turn, ensure the best delivery for students.

We would also like to remind our members that a Student Assembly is scheduled for December 7th. This is a forum where students are welcome to discuss submitted agenda items, including UCU action. We encourage all students to have their say and shape the work the union does for them.

Aatika Ayoub, Jabed Jabed, Nele Leitolf and Zoë Campbell, GSU Officers 2021/22

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Advice and support

Our free, impartial advice team can help with a range of academic and non-academic issues.

Complaints 

If you want to complain about the of impact strike action we have published a page to guide you through the process - click here for all the information.

EC's 

There are no new specific regulation that have been introduced for the strikes so the normal rules apply. If your  wellbeing or health condition has been adversely and disproportionality affected because of the industrial action and you can evidence this you may be able to claim EC's. Get in touch with our advice team who can advise if your circumstances might be relevant. 

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Jargon busters

Here are some terms you may read and hear over the coming weeks, and what it all means!

UCU - Universities & Colleges Union. The trade union for higher education workers, including professional services staff, academics and postgraduate research students. Their Higher Education Committee, a group made up of representatives (or reps) elected by UCU to represent their Higher Education members, has launched both strike ballots.

UUK - stands for Universities’ UK, which is the representative body for universities across the UK. They are leading the negotiations with UCU about the amount employers and staff should pay into USS pensions.

CMA - Competition and Markets Authority. They are an independent non-ministerial department linked to the UK government. They're responsible for ensuring that consumers get a good deal when buying goods and services, and businesses operate within the law.

OfS - Office for Students. They are the independent regulator of higher education in England.

OIA or OIAHE - Office of the Independent Adjudicator for Higher Education, an independent body set up to review student complaints.

Casualisation - refers to academic staff being employed on ‘casual’ contracts, for example for a half-day of teaching per week, rather than on an annually-salaried basis.

Joint Negotiating Committee - this is where UCU and UUK meet to discuss pensions.

RPI - the Retail Price Index. this is a way of measuring inflation by charting the cost of a shopping basket of standard goods each year. Therefore, if someone’s wages are increasing ‘below RPI,’ the increase in their pay is not going up at the same rate as the cost of a weekly shop.

Picket - a picket is a person or group of people who stand outside a workplace or other venue as a protest or to try to persuade others not to enter during a strike.

Picket line - a picket line is a boundary established by workers on strike, especially at the entrance to the place of work, which others are asked not to cross.

SMT - SMT stands for Senior Management Team. They are the top management of a university. They may be referred to as SLT also (Senior Leadership Team).

Ballot - a system of voting anonymously and in writing on a particular issue.

Action short of a strike - where workers take action such as working to rule, go-slows, overtime bans or callout bans.

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Enquiries

If you have a question about the strikes, please email us at greenwichsu@gre.ac.uk. You can also contact a GSU Officer, or make an informal complaint via our Complaints form

For press inquiries, please contact our Head of Marketing.

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Frequently asked questions

Staff and postgraduate students who are members of UCU may strike, which may affect everything from lecturers, tutorials, labs and assessments to other services across the University.

It is difficult to know how strike action will impact individual students, as it will differ from course to course and depending on your level of study. We expect some Faculties to be impacted more than others by the strike action. In the event of any strike action, the University should communicate with you via Faculties and departments about any disruption or other matters.

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You can talk to your tutors, lecturers and supervisors to find out more about why they are striking. If strike action takes place you can get involved in rallies, picket lines and writing letters to the University.

You can also talk to your Academic Reps who can raise your views and concerns to the University.

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Yes. The University campuses will remain open as normal with places such as the library, study spaces and sports facilities available for your use as usual. The Students’ Union will be open as usual too. You should be able to go into all buildings as you normally do, but there may be picket lines in place as part of the strike action. For questions regarding specific teaching facilities, please contact your Faculty.

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Individual lecturers/tutors etc. are under no obligation to disclose if they are going on strike. Unfortunately, we at GSU are unable to confirm which University staff will on strike or from what Faculty - we don't hold this information at all.

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At this stage it is unclear, it will become clearer once strike action is underway, but regardless, the University will be working to ensure your academic progress continues.

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Yes, you can contact staff as you would normally do. It is possible that there may be a delay in you receiving a response, especially if your enquiry is sent in the strike period and your lecturer/tutor is taking part in the strike action.

If you have an academic issue which requires urgent attention during the strike period and you are not sure if the member of staff is available, then please also contact your Faculty and they will be able to advise you.

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We are aware that this is an important concern for some students. We will keep you informed of any information we receive, along with information and advice from the Office for Students (OfS), Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) and the Office of the Independent Adjudicator for Higher Education (OIA).

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We are working to provide students with the most up to date information from UCU and the University, so you know what is going on regarding the industrial action. We'll keep you updated regularly on our website and through social media. We will also be involved in meetings and discussions with the University to ensure mitigation measures are implemented for students impacted, and to raise any concerns that students have.

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Our Advice Centre can support you if you wish to make a formal complaint. Some students will be eligible for concessions or extensions, we will be able to talk to you about these options.

For International students, the University can advise on any concerns with impact to your visas. For more information, visit the University website.

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