Email to students 6 March 2020
We are now at the end of week three of the current round of industrial action and I wanted to update you on the local and the national situation in relation to these disputes.
Progress in national level talks on both pay and conditions, and pensions continues in a positive and constructive spirit; I very much hope this continues and that all parties can come to an agreement soon.
Progress has also been made in working with the trade unions here at the University of York and we have signed a joint statement which pulls together a series of commitments made by UCU and University management that will help to mitigate the impact on your studies while not compromising the decision some of our staff have made to take industrial action.
We have also agreed with all of our campus unions - UCU, Unison and Unite a set of principles for our continued approach to joint working on reducing gender and ethnicity pay gaps, tackling workload and reviewing our approach to casual contacts. Please read the UCU joint statement and the UCU, Unite and Unison joint statement.
I see real scope to press on and address these issues locally, independent of progress in national negotiations. I am now chairing a Russell Group working group on casual staffing designed to share good practice across the group. I am keen that we at the University of York should be at the forefront of this discussion, helping to understand the causes of growth in casual staffing and leading the way in ensuring colleagues have the right employment contracts.
I am very conscious that some York students are losing a significant amount of contact time and academic support as a result of industrial action. I want to express both my concern for those students and my gratitude to colleagues working to reduce this loss and mitigate its effects. The Academic Contingency Group, led by John Robinson, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Teaching, Learning and Students, is meeting daily throughout the period of the action to monitor the situation and identify areas most affected so that we can work more closely with those departments to offer support and guidance.
Next week is the final week of action. It is important that you attend your scheduled teaching, labs and other learning activities unless you have been told otherwise by your department.
Many of you have been asking what will happen to the pay withheld during both periods of industrial action. The University has agreed with Student Officers from YUSU and the GSA that this fund will be directed towards:
(1) additional learning opportunities for students most affected by the strike
(2) initiatives that benefit all students
In the second category, there will be both longer-term projects and some spending to benefit students who are graduating soon.
Ongoing consultation is taking place with YUSU and GSA. We will publish details when the strike is over and we have gathered data on which students were most affected and the total sum available.
Our Industrial Action webpages include an up-to-date list of answers to questions students have been asking. Any queries that are not answered there can be sent to our industrial action enquiries email address.
I hope this goes some way towards reassuring you that we are working hard to address the complex issues and challenges that lie behind the causes of these disputes, and that we will continue to do all we can to bring about a resolution, and to mitigate as far as possible the impact on our student community.