GUIDANCE AND INFORMATION TO MEMBERS ON INDUSTRIAL ACTION UPDATED NOVEMBER 2019

This is a live Q&A. To ask a question, just scroll down to the form below.

What does it mean to strike and who can strike?

When you are on strike, you do not work. This includes time before 9am and after 5pm and includes any activity which is part of your work such as teaching, administration, meetings, emails relating to work, marking, research, events, or conferences where you are directly or indirectly representing your employer. Don’t do any work!

Research-only contracts: If you are on a research-only contract and you are taking strike action, you should not work and should follow all other advice. We have heard from several research-only members who have expressed concern that their strike action does not have an impact on the University. It does: your work will be slowed down and your email auto-responses will go to your funders, partners and colleagues. Your presence on the picket lines will help our action.

Research-only externally funded contracts: If you are employed by the University on an externally-funded contract and you take strike action you should not work and should follow all other advice. If your employment contract is with an external funding body, or any other body or agency, you should not strike.

Hourly-paid and STP contracts: If you are employed on an hourly-paid or GTA contract and you take strike action you should not work and should follow all other advice.

Research leave: If you are on research leave and you take strike action you should not work and should follow all other advice.

Annual leave/parental leave/sickness absence: If you are not at work for these reasons during strike action, you cannot strike. This is the only ‘dispensation not to strike’ that our members have, and we encourage you to donate any earnings to the local hardship fund if you can.

I’m not sure I can afford to strike. Will I really lose 8 days of pay?

We want to reassure all members, especially our hourly paid tutors, that they will receive strike pay. Members will have access to both national and local funds. You can find the details of the national strike fund here. But the TL;DR is that for staff making those making under £30k/year, UCU National will pay £75 for the second and subsequent days of strike action. For those making over £30k/year, UCU National will £50 for the third and subsequent days of strike action.

We also have a local strike fund. We are currently ironing out the details, but we want to assure people that we will be able to cover any gaps left by the national fund and that we will be able to reimburse people quickly.  During our last action all claims to the local fund were reimbursed in full.

Reporting Strike Action

Our members are already receiving emails from their line managers asking us to declare intention to strike in advance, using internal systems. We want to make clear that a) you do not need to, nor should you, declare your intention to strike in advance and b) you should not use the University of Warwick self-declaration form. Legally speaking, those staff who are employees (i.e. those with a contract of employment) do not need to inform of their intention to strike. Subsequent to industrial action, if you are asked if you took action by your line manager, head of department, or someone with that delegated authority, then you should answer honestly.

If you are an STP tutor, however, please declare in advance as your contract requires you to do so (as explained in the Warwick UCU FAQs for casualised staff). The advice from the branch for STP tutors is: 1) declare that you are striking in advance, but as late as possible (e.g. only on the morning of the day that you are due to teach, or the evening before); 2) do not fill in the HR self-reporting form even if you are asked to by the STP team; 3) do not declare ASOS as it does not apply to hourly paid staff.

Making up lectures

Members are also receiving emails from line managers asking them to mitigate the strike in various ways: either by notifying line managers ahead of time (see above) or by providing supplementary materials and putting them online. We want to reiterate that the power of strike action lies in its ability to disrupt. We ask that our members not put up supplementary materials online or do make up teaching.

Advice for Tier 2 Members

In the context of the Hostile Environment, it is understandable that a lot of international members are asking questions about whether striking will affect their visa status. The first thing to say is that members on visas are legally entitled to strike. During the last strike, staff who were on Tier 2 visas had their ability to strike hampered as a result of the annual 20-day limit for unpaid absences from work. However, as a result of our lobbying, striking has been added to the list to the list of exceptions to the rule. The new instructions are available here. However, there are still a number of questions about documentation, guarantees. There are also a number of questions being raised by Tier 4 workers. UCU national are currently seeking guidance from lawyers and will be publishing that advice shortly.

Should I try to minimise the impact of the disruption on my students?

The point of us withdrawing our labour is to demonstrate to the institution our importance to its functioning. If you work to ‘catch up’ on missed work, or to make special arrangements for students, you are essentially undermining the strike action. For the strike to be effective, it must be disruptive. Part of the disruption will come from the University having to deal with the fall out of our withdrawal of labour. In this way, it is a good thing if they have to spend their management time in committees figuring out how to mitigate the effects of our action. Please don’t take it upon yourselves to do this work or else you will be nullifying and undermining the point of the strike.

 

Should I be checking emails while on strike?

No. Absolutely not. Of course if your main email address is the University of Warwick email, then you may need to monitor emails for non-work related queries. If you notice anything to do with work, however, you should under no circumstances respond. Especially not if it is urgent. It is the University’s responsibility to address the fallout from our action. We are not being paid while on strike and so we should be doing no work, including checking emails.