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Industrial action

Information for undergraduate and postgraduate taught students, and postgraduate researchers, about industrial action at the University of York.

Your questions

We've provided answers to common questions below, but if you need more information please contact your department.

Contact us

If you have concerns about the impact of this action on your wellbeing, please contact the Student Support Hub:

student-hub@york.ac.uk
+44 (0)1904 324140
Market Square

For any other enquiries:

industrial-action-enquiries@york.ac.uk

About the industrial action

Update: 9 November 2022

The national University and College Union (UCU) has announced that industrial action will take place in universities across the UK in the form of three days of action accompanied by continuous action short of a strike.

  • Strike action will take place on Thursday 24 November, Friday 25 November and Wednesday 30 November.
  • The action short of a strike is intended to be continuous and will start on 23 November 2022 and will finish no later than 20 April 2023.
  • The action short of a strike is where staff may limit some of their activities, for example, working to contract, not covering for absent colleagues, not rescheduling lectures or classes cancelled as a result of strike, and not undertaking other voluntary activities.

Update: 26 October 2022

The University and College Union (UCU) has announced that its two national ballots over pay, working conditions and pensions came out in favour of industrial action. The UCU will meet on Thursday 3 November to decide next steps. We will update staff and students with further details as soon as we receive them.

Update: March 2022

The national University and College Union (UCU) has announced that a further round of industrial action will take place in universities across the UK in the form of five days of action in addition to the ongoing action short of a strike.

Strike dates announced are as follows:

  • Monday 21 to Friday 25 March 2022 (five days)

Update: January 2022

The national University and College Union (UCU) has announced that a further round of industrial action will take place in universities across the UK in the form of 10 days of action accompanied by continuous action short of a strike.

Strike dates announced are as follows:

  • Week 1: Monday 14 to Friday 18 February 2022 (5 days)
  • Week 2: Monday 21 and Tuesday 22 February 2022 (2 days)
  • Week 3: Monday 28 February, Tuesday 1 March and Wednesday 2 March (3 days)

The action short of a strike is:

  • staff working their contracted hours and duties and not volunteering to do more,
  • (effective Tuesday 21 December 2021) not rescheduling classes and lectures cancelled due to strike action,
  • (effective Wednesday 05 January 2022) not covering for absent colleagues,
  • and (effective Wednesday 05 January 2022) removing uploaded materials related to, and/or not sharing related materials related to, lectures or classes that will be or have been canceled as a result of strike action.

This page will be updated when we have more information. 

November 2021

The national University and College Union (UCU) has announced that industrial action will take place in universities across the UK in the form of three days of action accompanied by continuous action short of a strike.

  • Strike action will take place on Wednesday 1, Thursday 2 and Friday 3 December 2021.
  • The action short of a strike is intended to be continuous and will start on Wednesday 1 December 2021 and will finish no later than 3 May 2022.
  • The action short of a strike is staff working their contracted hours and duties and not volunteering to do more, and (effective Tuesday 21 December 2021) not rescheduling classes and lectures cancelled due to strike action.

It is important that you attend your scheduled teaching, labs, supervisions and other learning activities, unless you have been told otherwise by your department. Not doing so could mean missing your teaching, which could affect your studies.

This is especially important for any student who has attendance as part of their visa requirements. In the past, the UKVI have not held students responsible for missing teaching which was not available due to industrial action, but students must engage where teaching continues.

There are two separate disputes and two separate ballots for industrial action.

One is about pensions and the other is about pay and conditions.

There are two separate disputes and two separate ballots for industrial action. One is about pensions and the other is about pay and conditions.

On pensions, the UK-wide university scheme (called USS) faces significant challenges. Progress has been made in the national negotiations: proposals from the universities’ representatives have averted huge potential increased contributions - from both universities and staff - to the scheme to meet the future costs, though members of the scheme would see a reduction in their future pension benefits. Benefits which members have already earned within USS are protected by law and are secure.

The management of the University of York has no direct involvement in resolving the dispute, because discussions take place at national level between representatives of more than 340 employers, the UCU, and the USS pension scheme trustees. We know how important a good pension scheme is for our staff, which is why we’ve also been putting great pressure on the national parties to build on the common ground we know exists.

On pay and conditions, we work within national-level pay arrangements but we also work locally with our campus trade unions to make progress. We have made significant strides here in York, even during the pandemic. We are a real Living Wage Employer and we have worked hard to improve working arrangements for Graduate Teaching Assistants (GTA), including moving from casual contracts. In the last 12 months we have widened the offer of fixed term contracts to include GTA Demonstrators in addition to GTA Tutors. We now have more than 350 GTAs who have been issued fixed term contracts for the 2022/23 academic year, a significant increase from the 150 we had offered this time last year.

This web page will be kept up-to-date. We will also email you with updates from the University.

Your department will also send you information and updates so please keep an eye on your inbox.

Other queries can be emailed to industrial-action-enquiries@york.ac.uk

For staff who take part in strike action, a day’s pay is withheld for each day they participate in strike action. Wherever the University withholds pay, the funds are redirected for the benefit of students in consultation with the student unions. Withheld pay from strike action in December 2021 - February 2022 will be allocated as follows:

10% - Languages for All courses for postgraduates

10% - Student Projects Fund

40% - Hardship funding

40% - Tackling student digital poverty via the Broadband Access Scheme

 

Support

Departments will review what teaching does not take place and will make arrangements to mitigate the impact on students wherever possible.

Mitigations might include rescheduling teaching, providing complementary teaching, supporting learning in other ways and making adjustments to assessment.

Based on lessons learnt and experience from previous periods of industrial action, we will be working very closely with the most heavily affected departments to explore activities and contingencies we can put in place to minimise the impact of industrial action and deliver alternative and/or additional learning opportunities or mitigations.

Please keep your department informed of lost or affected teaching and learning so that they have an accurate picture of the impact on their students.

If you feel at any point you would like support for your personal wellbeing please see our student health and wellbeing pages for sources of help, advice and support.

This is for all students (undergraduate, postgraduate taught and postgraduate researchers).

Graduate teaching assistants should also refer to the information for staff

In the first instance, contact your department or your disability advisor.  Additional support is available to those who need it.

We understand the decision to take part in industrial action is not taken lightly and we respect the rights of our staff to participate.

We also take the health and wellbeing of our staff and students very seriously. We have made continuous investment in wellbeing services and we are working in close partnership with our trades unions to make progress. We call on all parties to continue to negotiate.

Read about our progress on pay and working conditions

Teaching and learning

It’s difficult to say at this point what level of impact we might see as we cannot predict how many staff will actually take part in industrial action.

We do ask our staff to inform their department of their intention to strike, but they are under no obligation and so we often will not know the extent of the take up of support until the strike action begins.

All other University resources and support will remain open and available to all undergraduate and postgraduate students including Open Door, Colleges, catering outlets, shops, the Library, the Sports Village and student support services.

It is important that you attend your scheduled teaching, labs and other learning activities unless you have been told otherwise by your department. Not doing so means that missing your teaching could affect your studies.

This is especially important for all students who have attendance as part of their visa requirements.

If your teaching does not go ahead, you will still be able to access all other facilities on campus, including the Library, and make use of online learning tools and resources.

It is important that you engage with your studies, which includes attending your scheduled teaching and other learning activities unless you have been told otherwise by your department. Not doing so means that missing your teaching could affect your studies.

This is especially important for undergraduate and postgraduate students who have attendance as part of their visa requirements. We continue to encourage students to aim to be in York for the start of Spring Term, if travel restrictions permit. 

You will still be able to access all other support, including student welfare and wellbeing services, and our online learning tools and resources.

If your scheduled teaching activities are cancelled, your department will inform you as soon as they are made aware.

Staff taking industrial action are not legally obliged to alert us in advance of their intention to strike and so there may be instances when we will only know about strike action if your lecturer does not turn up. We hope these instances will be rare or not happen at all.

If your department makes arrangements to mitigate lost teaching (for example, rearranges or makes alternative teaching and learning available) and you incur out of pocket expenses as a consequence (for example, additional child care or travel costs) you may submit your case for reimbursement by emailing industrial-action-enquiries@york.ac.uk.

Claims will be dealt with on a case-by-case basis and we will ask for evidence, where appropriate.

We truly hope that the majority of our students will see little or no impact on their studies and that mitigations will resolve most disruption to teaching and learning.

Where industrial action has taken place, departments will review any impact over the strike period and take action first to prioritise any adjustments to assessment, and then to plan to make any other mitigations required.

Students can be assured that exams and other assessments will not rely on anything that has been missed. Students will be informed of any further learning opportunities or resources to mitigate for missed teaching.

If at any point you still feel you have been adversely affected, there is a process you can follow which starts with talking to your department. 

Find out further information about how to raise concerns as an appeal or complaint.

If your teaching has been affected by the industrial action, then Exceptional Circumstances Committees can consider the impact on whole assessments, but this will be monitored and initiated by the department.

For taught students, if you have personal circumstances other than the industrial action, or personal circumstances which have been compounded by the industrial action, you can self-certify or apply for Exceptional Circumstances Affecting Assessment in the normal way.

If you are not self-certifying, you will need to provide independent third party evidence of the circumstances and their impact on you. The existence of the industrial action will not, in itself, be considered an exceptional circumstance except for whole cohorts taking a module.

If your supervisor is taking part in industrial action, they may not be available during the period of action.

If this is the case, they will likely have an out-of-office notification on their email explaining their position.

You should contact them about a timeline for completion.

If your supervisor is taking strike action or action short of a strike, they may not be available, or may only be intermittently available, during the period of industrial action.

If this is the case, they will likely have an out-of-office notification on their email explaining their position. If you haven't heard directly from a supervisor that they are taking action, you should assume that your supervisor is available.

PGRs should continue to engage in research activities, unless told not to by their department or supervisors.

Your department will be in contact if your oral examination is affected by industrial action. Alternative arrangements will be made or, if not possible, your viva can be delayed.

Graduate Teaching Assistants whose work or pay is affected by others taking part in industrial action should contact their GTA Co-ordinator

Picketing

Staff taking strike action may form pickets at popular entrance points to all campuses.

Picketers may wish to tell you about the action, or to engage you in some other way.

If by any chance you come across a picket line, it is entirely up to you if you wish to engage or not with members of staff taking part in the industrial action.

Staff taking action should not stop you from accessing campus, and will not be at the entrances to individual buildings.

If you feel uncomfortable there is usually another entrance into the building you can use.

Picketing can only be undertaken lawfully by:

  • a worker employed by the employer who is party to the dispute;
  • a worker who has lost their job for a reason connected to the dispute;
  • a Trade Union official picketing with the members that they represent.

Anyone who does not fall into one of the above categories will not be picketing lawfully - visitors to the picket lines are welcome to talk to those picketing but should only be there briefly.

Trade unions should not encourage others not party to the dispute to join a picket line, this includes students.

Only University staff members affected by the dispute can participate in strike action and picketing.

While students or other supporters will not be able to join the picket lines, they will be able to show support through other means. Students can approach the picket lines to engage with staff and let them know that they support them, but the legal guidelines on who can join a picket mean that they cannot remain beyond a brief period of discussion

Students who are also University of York employees, but not employees of a subsidiary, ie Commercial Services (YCL), and who are not a member of either UNISON or Unite, are able to strike and/ or join the picket line.

Individuals with student status only must not join the picket line and have no lawful right to do so.

Latest announcements

November 2022

Contact us

If you have concerns about the impact of this action on your wellbeing, please contact the Student Support Hub:

student-hub@york.ac.uk
+44 (0)1904 324140
Market Square

For any other enquiries:

industrial-action-enquiries@york.ac.uk