UCU – Advice to members subsequent to the industrial action

Dear member,

We are writing concerning the return to work subsequent to the strike, and particularly in light of the university management’s measures to move work online in response to COVID-19.

As you know, there is a local agreement to spread the deductions for strike action over 4 months, in return for which the York branch of UCU agreed to a joint statement with the University management, the salient points of which concerned the prioritization of student-facing activities, and agreement to prioritize work as directed by line managers. However, the preamble to the statement also says that the University management respect the right to strike action. The first principle of strike action is that labour withdrawn is not replaced.

We understand that some members have been put under pressure by their line managers to re-arrange activities (including but not limited to teaching sessions) that were missed due to the industrial action; in addition, some members have reported additional pressure to meet deadlines, or to “catch up” on work that was missed. We want to reassure members that the union’s position is that while UCU understands the need to engage with students now the strike action is over work lost through strike action will not be performed. We are not catching up after a break: we were not paid for that work, and so we do not have to do it.

Moreover, as part of UCU’s lawful mandate for industrial action, UCU members at York are still engaged in Action Short Of a Strike (ASOS) until the 16th of April 2020 including a directive to members to work to contract. This means that you only work your contracted hours, and do not undertake voluntary activities. In our joint statement concerning the industrial action, university management undertook to ‘advise students and staff about alternative means to support learning which take account of UCU’s position’ regarding ASOS.

These matters are particularly pressing in light of the University management’s measures in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. Moving activities and events online requires a great deal of work, and that is why we have written to the Vice-Chancellor to ask that appropriate resources and support are given to ensuring that staff are not asking to undertake yet more additional unpaid work.

The specific ways in which these matters will be handled will vary significantly across different departments and sections of the University. In some cases what you choose to prioritize will be a matter of personal judgement. The local branch will be happy to answer any queries you may have about particular cases. We will also be there to support you if any unreasonable attempts are made to pressure or force you to replicate struck work, or to undertake work beyond your contracted hours. If you have any questions or need support, please contact VCattini@ucu.org.uk

Finally, we wish you and your loved ones well in this difficult time. We will keep you updated in relation to our communications with the university management.

In solidarity,

UoY UCU Exec

UCU York letter to VC on coronavirus outbreak

The UCU York branch has received a number of communications from members expressing concerns about the current pandemic and its impact on staff and students at the University of York. In light of these and the decisions taken on Friday by the union’s national executive committee (NEC) and the higher education committee (HEC) regarding the union’s response to Covid-19, we are working on developing a branch level position. In the meantime, we will meet on Tuesday with senior management and the other campus unions (UNISON and UNITE) on this matter, and have produced the attached document 200316 UCU York VC coronavirus letter final. The document is addressed to our vice-chancellor and sets out a number of requests that we believe are important to safeguard the health of all at the University of York.

Strike Bulletin 2 – March 2020

University of York UCU – Strike bulletin


Our first five days of strike action have gone well, with the children and dogs on our picket lines keeping up the high standards of charm and solidarity set by our pre-Christmas strike days.

Our rallies have given a whole range of members the chance to speak out about why they are taking action. They have spoken eloquently about the human costs of excessive workloads, the injustice of insecure work, and the inequity of the gender and BAME pay gaps for our university community.

Members have been equally creative in organising teach-outs and craft workshops (calendar here)—lovely bunting now decorates our picket lines. We are coming together to show our strength and commitment, but we also get to keep talking to each other about making our university a better place for all. We can be really proud of what we achieving here at York.

WE ARE MAKING A DIFFERENCE. Nationally, our action has forced employers to talk to UCU negotiators again, about both the USS dispute and the “Four Fights” on pay and pay related issues, and there are already signs of positive progress.

WE NEED TO KEEP GOING. It’s vital that our action continues to pressure the employers to offer meaningful improvements for our members. We know how hard this is but the solidarity we’ve built up so far should give us confidence. Decent staff conditions are good for universities, and it’s time our employers did something about working with us to create them.




Information about reporting

Many members have asked about the forms sent by HR requesting reports of action taken. You are under no obligation to report the days you have gone on strike until after the action has concluded.