Industrial action over USS changes is due to begin on 22 February

Following a recent ballot, the University and College Union (UCU) has notified the University that it is calling its members to take industrial action, beginning on 22 February, in response to proposals for future benefits in the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS).

To declare your participation in this industrial action, please use our online form.
More information ↴

What action is the UCU calling for?

The action is composed of strike action and action short of a strike:

Strike action
The dates notified to us by the UCU are:

Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri
Week beginning 19 February 22nd 23rd
Week beginning 26 February 26th 27th 28th
Week beginning 5 March 5th 6th 7th 8th
Week beginning 12 March 12th 13th 14th 15th 16th

On-going 'action short of a strike'
This includes working to contract, not covering for absent colleagues, not rescheduling lectures or classes cancelled due to strike action, and, not undertaking any voluntary activities.

This action will also commence on 22 February and we have been notified that it will terminate no later than 19 June 2018.

How we will manage this action

The Vice-Chancellor has already shared information with staff about how the University will continue to work with USS, UUK and UCU to address this situation. We understand the outcome of the USS negotiations has caused great concern among USS members, and we respect the right of staff to take part in lawful industrial action.

However, our immediate priority must be to minimise disruption for our students and staff. We will follow the University's established policy on managing industrial action. We will monitor the likely impact of action being taken and work with departments and students to develop contingency plans to minimise disruption.

If you plan to take part in the industrial action

While we are entitled to ask staff if they intend to participate in industrial action, we recognise that staff are not obliged to notify us until the action commences. We would, however, be grateful if you could let us know in advance if you intend to participate in the action, by completing the online form.

Please notify us as soon as possible and no later than 8.45am on your first day of participation. You will need to identify yourself using your University of York IT account.

We need to make you aware of the consequences of taking part in industrial action. Following University policy, this means:

  • Strike action: we will withhold a day's pay (1/365th of salary) for each day you participate in strike action.
  • Action short of a strike: if your actions do not constitute a breach of contract, then your pay will not be affected. However, the University does not accept partial performance, and we expect staff who are at work to prioritise essential work and comply with the obligation to work in an efficient manner. We will monitor the nature of action being taken and, if we consider that there is a failure to undertake reasonable duties, we reserve the right to withhold pay. The exact response to any level of action, including the right to withhold pay and the amount of pay that may be withheld, will be considered when the specific detail and likely impact are known.

Deductions from pay will be made from the first available payroll following notification of your participation.


No. Only staff taking part in the industrial action need to respond.

As we do not know which staff are members of UCU, we will be emailing staff to explain the reporting arrangements. You can ignore these emails if you are not taking part.

Unless you inform us that you are taking strike action by completing the online form, we will assume you are working normally, which may include being on holiday, sick leave or away from your place of work (eg attending a conference).

  • If you are not intending to take strike action, ensure that your leave has been authorised through normal procedures so that there is no confusion within your department as to the nature of your absence.
  • If you will be absent from work but want to take part in the strike action, ensure that you report your intention to strike through the online form.

In the past, the University has made employer contributions and deducted employee contributions for staff who have been on strike. However USS has informed us that for the forthcoming period of industrial action they have amended the arrangements for pension contributions.

The main change is that death in service and incapacity benefits remain in place for scheme members regardless of whether pension contributions are being made for the days spent on strike.

However, accompanying this is a requirement that the University must now have your consent to continue your employee contributions in respect of days you are on strike. Without your consent, we cannot make deductions for your contributions and we cannot make our employer contributions. This means that if you do not agree to continue making your employee contributions, you will not accrue benefits in the scheme for the days when you are on strike, although you will still be covered for death in service and incapacity benefits on those days.

We have added a question to the online form to ask colleagues if they want to maintain their pension contributions when on strike. This will apply to all pension contributions that the employee is making (ie ordinary contributions and any AVCs). If anyone participating in the strike has not responded through the form, we will contact them directly to confirm their wishes.

It should be noted that the USS Trustee has reserved the right to review their policy if the industrial action proposed for February/March 2018 is extended or further action is proposed.

Further queries about implications to your pension can be obtained from your union.

You should tell us when declaring your strike action.

Money withheld as a result of strike action will be put toward student support initiatives such as the University's hardship funds.

As part of an agreement between the University and the York branch of the UCU, deductions will be spread over a four month period from April to July, with a quarter of deductions due being taken in each month.

For more information, see the message from the VC and the President of the York branch of UCU.

Picketing involves peacefully persuading workers of the reasons why individuals are taking industrial action. Pickets cannot stop you from going to work, from carrying out your work, or make threats or implied threats to prevent you from attending work. If you want to attend work, you should do so.

Alternative entrances to the University's campuses mean it may not be necessary for you to pass pickets to get to your place of work.