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UCU strike action from February 2018: staff guidance

The following information is to:

  • explain the University’s position as an employer in response to strike action;
  • explain how the University is managing disruption to students;
  • enable individuals to make informed decisions about participating in strike action or action short of a strike (ASOS).

Background

UCU members nationally have voted to take strike action from 22 February for a four-week period, and to take ASOS from 22 February to 19 June. There is further information on the UCU’s position, the proposed USS pension scheme changes and Warwick’s institutional response collated here.

There are 14 potential days of strike action:

  • Week one - Thursday 22 and Friday 23 February
  • Week two - Monday 26, Tuesday 27 and Wednesday 28 February
  • Week three - Monday 5, Tuesday 6, Wednesday 7 and Thursday 8 March
  • Week four - Monday 12, Tuesday 13, Wednesday 14, Thursday 15 and Friday 16 March

What are we doing at Warwick?

We recognise the UCU’s decision to strike. We understand the concerns and frustrations of UCU members regarding the national negotiations on the USS proposals. We also understand and appreciate that UCU action is targeted nationally, rather than specifically at Warwick. Stuart Croft, as VC, has engaged directly with UUK as our national employer representative body, and made public comment on the negotiations and his concerns about the USS proposals. We continue to seek to engage with UUK.

We are looking at the full range of services and events that may be impacted by strike action across academic departments, professional services and commercial departments. We are working very hard to mitigate the impact of industrial action on the University’s activities, and particularly on student progression and student experience. We recognise that the planned strike fall at a busy time of the academic year and that this will create understandable anxieties for some students, and we plan to ensure that there is as little disruption as possible.

Guidance for heads of academic and professional service departments

Heads of departments and departmental administrators have been asked to review key departmental activities and ensure they put plans and prioritisation in place to continue to deliver core services through alternative means should disruption occur. Through Human Resources (HR) and the Academic Registrar’s Office, we are working with departments to advise and support their planning. Guidance and details of HoDs surgery sessions and support have been shared directly with these groups.

The following activities should be prioritised: timetabled teaching, setting and marking examinations, other forms of assessment, invigilation, attendance at examination boards and vivas, organisation of degree ceremonies and offer holder days. For professional and commercial services, focus should be on facilitating core academic commitments, planned visitor events and other key operational services.

HoDs are expected to ensure that individuals taking part in strike action or ASOS are not subject to behaviour that disadvantages them for taking part, that they continue to include all staff in all usual departmental communications, meetings and development opportunities, and that they continue to operate departmental arrangements for annual leave, reporting sickness absence and working from home as usual.

Guidance for individuals planning to strike

There is no legal requirement for individuals planning to take strike action or ASOS to notify us in advance of the days they intend to take action. However, HoDs are permitted to ask them of their plans, and advance notification enables us to plan any mitigation required to minimise disruption. There is an online form available here and available via the HR pages for the duration of the strike for individuals to notify the University of their participation in individual days of strike.

  • Strike action: there will be 100% deduction of pay for those participating in single days of strike action who self-declare or are reported as taking strike action. This is calculated at 1/365th of an individual’s annual contractual pay. Please note, this replaces the previous calculation of 1/260th.
  • ASOS: as long as the contract is being performed, there will be no deduction of pay. We will be asking individuals to focus their contractual time on assessment, feedback, teaching and other activities which enable students to progress and succeed. Where individuals are reported as only partially delivering against their contract, the University reserves the right to deduct 25% of a day’s pay for each day.

  • The University’s usual procedures for reporting of sickness absence and for the authorisation of annual leave will continue. It is at the HoD’s discretion as to whether an individual may take annual leave depending on the nature of departmental responsibilities.
  • Under USS regulations, the University will continue to pay 'employer' contributions to the USS pension scheme for staff who take strike action, but individuals can choose whether or not to make 'employee' contributions. Individuals can notify the University of their choice in the self-declaration form. It is a USS insurance cover requirement that individuals who choose not to make employee contributions but do want to sustain death in service benefits (which would otherwise fall away if they stop making contributions whilst on strike) must declare that they are taking strike action before the action occurs.

Information for students

Information about the University’s response to strike action is shared with the student community via MyWarwick, and with student representatives in the Students’ Union.

Should timetabled events be impacted by strike action, departments should notify students directly via the MyWarwick app, by email and/or via departmental websites. Students should assume that any scheduled teaching is set to go ahead unless they are informed otherwise.

Where students have queries relating specifically to their course progression – for example the academic timetable or submission dates – they are advised to contact their department for advice. They are also signposted to the personal tutor system, and to Wellbeing Support Services should they have other concerns.

Next steps

HR advisers and members of the Academic Registrar’s Office will continue to work with Heads of Department and departmental administrators to review and prioritise academic and operational activities which will be most affected by strike action and support them in identifying mitigating actions.

Individuals planning to take strike days, or need to report that they have done so, are asked to notify the University by completing the self-declaration form.

Updates

We will share further information with staff and students regularly over the coming weeks to update on the overall situation at Warwick, and on what we learn of national negotiations. We have also collated a list of frequently asked questions for staff and students, that we will update as further queries come in. Latest updates to this page were made on 21 March with guidance on assessment and examination arrangements.

We welcome feedback and questions from the University community, to be sent via academic dot continuity at warwick dot ac dot uk.

Latest updates to the FAQs - made on 21 March 2018, with guidance on assessment and examination arrangements.