What is a strike?
A strike is a period of time where employees decide not to come into work in protest about a particular aspect about their employment. They do not get paid whilst on strike. Strikes are often referred to as ‘industrial action’.
Why are UCU members going on strike?
UCU is a British trade union representing academics and support staff. UCU recently ran a national ballot were all their members could vote on whether they wanted to take strike action over pay and pensions. The national ballot passed which gives the local City, University of London UCU branch a mandate to take strike action.
Some members of City staff, both academic and other central professional services (such as the Library and the Student Centre), are members of UCU and therefore may choose to strike. The ballot is valid for 6 months which means students at City can unfortunately expect strike action to effect teaching and learning, and the wider student experience.
When are the strikes taking place?
The full strike dates in November are: Thursday 24 November, Friday 25 November and Wednesday 30 November.
Staff will also begin industrial action short of strike action from Wednesday 23 November, which includes working to rule, refusing to make up work lost because of strike action and refusing to cover for absent colleagues.
What does Action Short of a Strike (ASOS) mean?
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.
How many staff will be on strike?
We don’t know, information about whether or not someone is a member of a trade union or not is confidential and as such neither us or the University know.
It is important to note that not all staff will be striking and many students may find they have had little to no impact, but we understand this risk is difficult news to take in, with Covid-19 and other strikes impacting so much of our studies over the past few years.
We’re working with City to identify which departments have previously been most affected by strike action and we will adapt our emails and other communications based on this information.
Are staff paid when they take the decision to strike?
The decision to take strike action is not normally a decision taken lightly and during a strike staff are not paid. The Union is asking for the unpaid wages of staff on strike to be put into the student funding, e.g. the Student Hardship Fund.
What impact will the strikes have on students?
Some of the things strike action could lead to students experiencing include:
- Lectures and seminars being cancelled without notice
- Subjects being missed due to cancelled teaching
- Individual meetings with academics not going ahead
- A delay in email replies
- Potentially not getting grades back in good time if there is a marking and assessment boycott.
How can I find out if my lecturer is going on strike?
Individual lecturers / tutors etc. are under no obligation to disclose if they are going on strike, it is also information that we don’t hold. We are lobbying for every course to clearly communicate to students how they will minimize the impact of the strike days.
What is the Union doing to help students?
City Students’ Union is here to support you throughout the strikes and some of the things we are working with university management and liaising with UCU colleagues to ensure include:
- That City puts in place effective arrangements to manage the impact of the strikes on both teaching and learning and your student experience. For example, lobbying for missed subjects to not be included in exams or assessment.
- That City properly communicates with you around any disruption, including how the strikes may affect different groups of students (e.g. International Students).
- That City ensures you understand what you can reasonably expect vs. what you were originally promised from your course.
- That essential student services, such as Counselling and Mental Health are still accessible over strike action.
- That City puts all unpaid staff wages into student funding to support students who are struggling.
- That you are not harassed for crossing strike picket lines outside campus.
- That your views, feelings and thoughts are listened to and relayed to university management.
- That you know how to make a claim for compensation if your teaching and learning is disrupted.
We have also built this strikes information page and FAQ and will be hosting a stall on Tuesday 15th and 22nd November on the Northampton Square campus and roaming around campus on the other days to answer any questions you may have.
Can I still email my lecturer / personal tutor / other teaching staff?
Yes, you can contact staff as you would normally do. It is possible that there may be a delay in you receiving a response, especially if your enquiry is sent in the strike period and your lecturer/tutor is taking part in the strike action.
If you have an academic issue which requires urgent attention during the strike period and you are not sure if the member of staff is available, then please also contact your Course Officer and they will be able to advise you.
Do I still need to come to campus on strike days?
It is important you still attend all scheduled lectures, seminars and other sessions unless you have been informed they have been cancelled.
Will I be assessed on course content that is missed because of strike dates?
Your course should communicate with you how it is mitigating the impact of the strikes. One of the ways they may decide to do this is to remove assessed content that has been missed. As your Union we will be lobbying City to ensure missed content is not assessed.
Who can I speak to about the strikes?
Whilst the industrial action is happening you can contact the university by emailing email@example.com
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.
How can I claim compensation for strike action?
There are several factors which contribute to a students ability to make a complaint for compensation. Before you start organising a complaint there are a few things you need to do:
- Have a good understanding of all the mitigations your course may have put in place. You can email your Course Officer to find out more.
- Keep a record of the disruption to your studies.
- Wait until after the strike action to submit your complaint so you can evidence the full impact.
- Strike complaints are usually best submitted as group complaints. If you have had lectures cancelled or your studies have been affected in some other way, you are unlikely to be the only one in your cohort to be affected. Organising a group complaint is a good way of emphaising how much the strike has impacted a course.
Full details of the complaints process for compensation can be found on our website here: www.citystudents.co.uk/UCUstrike
How do I evidence the impact the strikes have had on my experience?
To support a complaint, you need to keep a short note of each time industrial action affects your studies. Scan the QR code below to download our Disruption Diary and make sure you keep any other evidence, such as receipts for travel costs.
What happens in a compensation complaint process?
The guidance is available on student hub and our Union Advice pages. All complaints follow the same format, it’s just outcomes that really differ. So, if claiming compensation that’s what is put in the outcome section and explaining why it is justified. I have written some guidance advice as requested.
What steps can I take to support myself?
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.
Here are also some alternative places that you can study if you don't feel comfortable crossing the UCU picket lines:
- Wellcome Library inside the Wellcome Collection museum.
- British Library.
- Anthropology Library & Research Centre inside the British Museum.
- Your local library - you can find your closest library by entering your postcode here: https://www.gov.uk/local-library-services