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Email to staff and PGRs 19 January 2023

Email from Charlie Jeffery, Vice-Chancellor, to all staff and postgraduate researchers.

Dear colleagues and postgraduate researchers,

I am writing to confirm that the national University and College Union (UCU) has announced that industrial action will take place in universities across the UK this term, as follows:

  • UCU has notified universities across the UK that strike action will take place on Wednesday 1 February 2023. 
  • UCU has announced that, in total, there will be eighteen strike days spread across February and March. It has said that the dates of other days will be confirmed soon.
  • The action short of a strike announced in November 2022 continues.
  • There is no marking and assessment boycott planned for this term.

We are updating with the key information when we receive more notifications.

As ever, the impact of industrial action will vary in different Departments/Schools, and from module to module, so it is difficult to determine the impact in advance. Our contingency group is meeting regularly to try and minimise disruption, and we will be communicating with students to advise them of UCU’s action. 

Root cause of the issues

This week, I wrote a comment piece in the Financial Times about how we need to tackle the root cause of the problems we face. 

Many of you will know my own position on this: at national level the higher education sector has a very poor industrial relations record. National negotiation processes have repeatedly failed to reach sustainable, agreed outcomes on pay and pensions for the sector. 

As I wrote in the Financial Times, I think a different approach needs to be taken in which university employers and campus trade unions work together to tackle the underlying problems driving these disputes: the unsustainable system for funding undergraduate study in the UK, which doesn’t work for students and leaves universities under-funded; and the excessively cautious approach taken by the Pensions Regulator, which has limited scope to maintain pension benefits for staff.

We work constructively with campus unions at York on the things under our control. We need to find a route to a more constructive conversation at national level on the problems underlying these national disputes. I am working on various forums at national level to try to create the space for that conversation, and I am encouraging our campus unions to do the same. Without working together, it will be very difficult to break out of this cycle of disputes. 

Industrial action this term

While I know that any decision to take part in industrial action is not taken lightly, I am saddened by the possible impacts on our students when there are so many other difficulties to contend with in the current cost of living crisis. We will be doing all we can in the coming weeks to help minimise the impact of industrial action on their studies. 

With best wishes

Contact us

If you're a member of staff taking part in industrial action, please contact HR if you have any questions:

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Contact us

If you're a member of staff taking part in industrial action, please contact HR if you have any questions:

Use this email address for any other enquiries: