As many students will be aware, the University and College Union (UCU) has announced eight days of industrial action in relation to a dispute over pay and changes to the USS pension scheme.
This is a national action and, whilst every effort has been made to resolve the dispute, we have been notified that action will take place on 25, 26, 27, 28, 29 November 2019 and 2, 3, 4 December 2019. Continuous UCU action short of a strike (which is intended to include staff not covering for other colleagues’ absences or not providing materials for missed teaching sessions) will start on 25 November 2019 and end no later than 29 April 2020.
Unite members within Campus Support will also take strike action in relation to a local dispute in connection with their terms of employment for 72 hours starting at 7am on 13 November, and for 48 hours, starting 7am on 2 December.
A planning group has been meeting regularly and, following our latest meeting, we can update you with more details on what you should expect during industrial action and what we are putting in place to minimise its impact on you.
What will happen during industrial action
We know that not all members of staff will take part in the strike and many teaching and assessment sessions, including midterm exams, will go ahead as planned.
As staff do not have to inform the University in advance that they intend to take strike action, unfortunately we cannot give you advance notice of cancelled sessions, although some of your lecturers may do so. It is therefore important that you assume all activities are going ahead, including the supervision of projects and dissertations, and that you attend as planned unless you hear definitively from your lecturer or School office that a teaching event will not take place. If a member of staff does not arrive for a teaching session at its planned start time, please wait for a few minutes to be sure that they are not late before you leave the room.
Lecturers have to inform the University that they have taken action as soon as they return to work so your department will be aware of any sessions which have been missed. If a member of staff takes strike action on one day, it should not be assumed that they will continue to do so on other days.
You should continue to submit assignments to existing deadlines. Students will be informed of any changes to the dates for the return of work, which may need to be delayed due to strike action.
If you arrived for a meeting with your dissertation / final year project supervisor and they were not there and you think that this will affect your work please inform the School Office as soon as possible and they will record this. If you think you will need an extension because of this, please indicate how many sessions have been missed providing details of days and times. Your Head of Department will consider the impact of missed supervision and you will be informed of any extension to your submission deadline in a timely fashion.
Please note that, in line with UCU’s action short of a strike, alternative learning materials for missed teaching sessions may not be made available by your lecturers and we therefore encourage you to make use of background reading on missed topics as far as you can. We know that you will be concerned about the potential impact on your ability to complete coursework and answer examination questions and would like to reassure you that we will make certain that no student is disadvantaged as a result of the strike action. We will be aware of where missed teaching sessions may have an impact on some coursework or exam questions and we have processes in place for our Board of Examiners to ensure that your attainment and progression is not unduly affected, whilst maintaining academic standards.
We would like to reassure all students booked to attend their graduation on 2 and 3 December that their ceremonies will go ahead as planned.
Further information and support
We know that some of you will have additional questions regarding the strike action so for more details on the background to the dispute and other information, including details of our complaints procedure, please visit our FAQs page here.
We recognise that the strike action may be a cause of concern and worry for you. If at any time you feel you might benefit from some extra support, please access our wellbeing drop-in, located in the Alsop Building. To ensure all students can access wellbeing support we will be extending the hours of this service during the industrial action period to 10am – 4pm every weekday. You don’t need to book – simply come along to the Student Welfare Advice and Guidance Information Point on the ground floor of the Alsop Building (on University Square) and you will be able to access practical and pastoral support in a confidential space. Information on all other support available can be accessed here.
We will continue to keep you updated.
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