UCU Industrial Action 2022

What is is industrial action / what is a strike / what is action short of a strike?

Industrial action is action taken by employees of an organisation as a protest something that related to their work or organisation. The phrase industrial action also includes strike action.

Trade unions organise industrial action to put pressure on employers to improve pay and conditions. The trade union that represents lecturers and professional services staff at City are known as City UCU (University and College Union). Most universities have a UCU branch.

The outcome of the City UCU ballot about whether they should strike on pay and pensions, was that they are going to strike.

Strike – an organised stoppage of work; at universities, this means staff will not deliver any of their duties on specific days, for example teaching. They do not work and will not be paid for it.

Picket line – a boundary established by staff on strike, usually at entrances to university buildings which others are asked not to cross, to show solidarity.

Action short of a strike (ASOS) – an organised set of actions that unionised staff will take that will cause disruption. For example, working to contract (e.g. working exactly your contracted hours), or not covering for absent colleagues.

What is a trade union, and why would staff join one?

A trade union (sometimes just known as a union) is a group of staff who join to maintain and improve their conditions of employment.

Some of the teaching and services staff that support you will belong to a trade union known as University and Colleges Union (UCU). They pay a membership fee to access assistance, services and to collectively campaign for better pay and conditions for all workers.

In the UK, nearly seven million people belong to a trade union. Other unionised jobs include nurses, teachers, cleaners, bus drivers, footballers and more.

Some examples of change that unions have bought to society include:

  • A national minimum wage
  • Minimum holiday and sickness pay
  • Improved worker safety
  • Improved parental leave
  • Equality legislation
  • Better protection of migrant workers

Many lecturers at City are a part of UCU and will be taking part in strike action.

We encourage you to speak to your lecturers to see if they are taking part in strike action and to find out what their reasons are.

Why are UCU striking? What do they want to change?

The decision to take industrial action by a group of workers is not an easy decision and is usually a last resort when workplace disputes, such as low pay or bad working conditions, have lasted a while.

Staff at City who are UCU members are striking over pay and pensions, you may also hear this referred to as ‘The Four Fights’.

The Four Fights

This title references all UCU’s campaign points on:

  • Fair pay
  • Job security
  • Manageable workloads
  • Equality

You can read more about UCU’s position here: or speak to your lecturer who is striking.

What impact will this action have on students?

It is likely that industrial action will have an impact on students, particularly after two-years of disrupted learning due to Covid-19.

During strike days, the impact may include:

  • Lectures and seminars may be cancelled at late notice.
  • Feedback and assessment may take longer.
  • Missed personal tutoring sessions or delayed responses.
  • Longer waiting times for email replies.

The confirmed actions short of a strike (ASOS) include the following, and may impact you in these ways:

Working to contract

Staff will only be working their contracted hours, including all breaks and will not start early or finish late. You may find it more difficult to contact staff who are taking part, on email and on campus.

Not covering absent staff

If a staff member is off sick or otherwise, their work will not be covered; as a result, you may find that lectures and seminars are cancelled.

Not rescheduling lectures or classes cancelled due to strike action

Teaching due to take place on strike days will not be reorganised by staff who strike; as a result, you will miss this learning.

Marking and assessment boycott

Staff who are on strike will not perform any duties relating to marking and assessments, this means there may be delays to your feedback.

You should still complete and submit your coursework by the deadline agreed as usual, even if your lecturer is taking part in the strike.

What do you think your students' union should do?

As your students’ union, we want to hear your concerns about the strikes and know what you think we should be doing.

Regardless of what you tell us, we will always ensure:

  • You are supported to make a complaint or compensation claim where you have been affected by the disruption through our Advice Service.
  • That you receive timely and transparent communications about what is going on.
  • To facilitate discussions about the dispute between the university management and trade unions.
  • That we represent your voice to university management to get the best possible deal for students. Some things we can lobby the university for could include:
    • Removing missed topics from exams
    • Changing assessment methods
    • Extending deadlines
  • To lobby the university to ensure there is no bullying or extra pressure on staff who take the decision to strike.
  • To lobby for unpaid staff wages to be allocated into the Student Hardship Fund and other student wellbeing provision.
  • That you can still access mental health and welfare services.
Other useful information

It can be frustrating being a student whilst staff are striking, but there are lots of other ways that you can make up for missed learning and use time to compliment your course and make the most of a difficult situation.

Here are some things you could do:

  • Log into LinkedIn Learning and find content relevant to your studies or refine skills that you might need to land your first dream job.
  • Contact your academic society and see if they are hosting any study groups or events.
  • Contact your programme rep about organise an in-person or online study group.
  • Find a new café or co-working space to work from on strike days.
  • Explore and work from one of London’s local or central libraries.
Who can I speak to about the strikes?

Whilst the industrial action is happening you can contact the university by emailing

You can contact our Advice Service about the impact the strikes has had on you but we recommend that you do so at the end of the action, this is to ensure you have the option of submitting an effective and informative complaint at the end of the Industrial Action. To do this you should keep a record of all aspects of your academic experience that you believe has been impacted.

When logging the impact that the action has had your should write down:

  • The date the issue happened.
  • What was affected (e.g. seminar, lecture, revision session, supervision session, personal tutoring etc).
  • A short note of any concerns you have about how this could affect your studies (e.g. material might arise on an exam, or in coursework, learning needed for professional placement).
  • If the disruption has cost you in some way then keep evidence of this. This could be travel costs, or a paid notetaker from your DSA, for example.
  • Has your School put anything in place to mitigate this impact? If you are unsure ask your Course Officer.