UCU Strikes

UCU Strikes

This page has been put together by your Students' Union to give UOS students some key information on the upcoming industrial action by the union UCU. If you have any questions or views to raise on anything on this page or about the industrial action more widely, please email alex.pres@uos.ac.uk


UCU (University and College Union) is a trade union that represents academic and professional services staff that have joined as members across universities, colleges, prisons, adult education and training organisations in the UK. They represent their members as workers to their employer over issues such as pay and working conditions. UCU have local branches in many universities, but also work collectively as a national group as well.

UCU have announced that after failing to reach agreement with employers they will be taking industrial action, starting later this month. There will be two elements to this industrial action.

From November 23rd, they will be taking 'Action Short of a Strke' (you may see this referred to as 'ASOS' elsewhere). As the name suggests, this is a form of industrial action aimed at putting pressure on an employer that doesn't go as far as withdrawing their labour. UCU have outlined what this might entail in their specific industrial action.

  • working to contract (such as sticking to working hours, specified breaks and workload)
  • not covering for absent colleagues
  • removing uploaded materials related to, and/or not sharing materials related to, lectures or classes that will be or have been cancelled as a result of strike action
  • not rescheduling lectures or classes cancelled due to strike action
  • not undertaking any voluntary activities and
  • undertaking a marking and assessment boycott.

On what exactly ASOS will look like in this industrial action, UCU have said: "Decisions over when different forms of ASOS are called are made through the democratic mechanisms of the union, including the elected members of the higher education committee (HEC). UCU will be in a position to announce what forms of ASOS are being called, and for how long, once HEC members have made those decisions."

More details on the specifics of what might be entailed by ASOS can be found on the UCU webpage here

UCU will also be taking strike action on November 23rd, 24th and 30th - this means members of UCU choosing to engage in this action will not carry out work of any kind on these dates

UCU has called this industrial action over two key sets of demands - these are detailed below in their own words:

"1. Pay and working conditions dispute
  • An increase to all spine points on the national pay scale of at least inflation (RPI) + 2% or 12% whichever is the higher
  • nationally-agreed action, using an intersectional approach, to close the gender, ethnic and disability pay gaps
  • an agreed framework to eliminate precarious employment practices by universities
  • nationally agreed action to address excessive workloads and unpaid work, to include addressing the impact that excessive workloads are having on workforce stress and ill-health
  • for the standard weekly, full-time contract of employment to be 35 hours, with no loss of pay.
2.USS PENSIONS dispute
  • UCU members demand employers to revoke the massive cuts which they imposed on members of the USS pension scheme, and put pressure on USS to restore benefits to 2021 levels as soon as possible.
  • UCU also want UUK to put strong pressure on USS to ensure that the next and all subsequent valuations of the financial health of the scheme to be evidence-based and are moderately prudent".

You can find out more about UCU's demands and this industrial action here. Universities UK has responded to the decision to take industrial action here

Across the period of industrial action there will likely be disruption to teaching and support on some courses. We are currently working with the university to establish exactly which courses will be affected in which ways and in making sure this is clearly communicated to students

The University of Suffolk has sent out the following message to students regarding the impact of the industrial action:

"Dear Students,

Strike Action by members of the University and College Union

I am writing to inform you of the potential for strike action by members of the University and College Union (UCU) planned for 24, 25 and 30 November 2022. As a university we are very unlikely to know in advance the impact that this action may have on your activities on these days, but we are expecting some level of disruption which we deeply regret.

A small number of our academic and learning support staff are members of the union, although we will not necessarily know in advance whether they are planning to take part in the strike or not. For this reason, we are unable to confirm at this stage whether there will be any changes to your teaching schedule, including cancellation or rescheduling of lectures on these days. We recommend that you plan to attend as usual and if we are able to confirm that lectures are being cancelled due to strike action, we will notify you of this as soon as possible through Brightspace. If you are unfortunately impacted in this way, please do bring materials to work on independently or with your peers and use our library to best effect.

We recognise that the action that may be taken could be disruptive for our students, but we hope that any disruption will be minimised. We are confident that our wider workforce will continue to be as supportive and responsive to our students as possible. Please be assured that we remain committed to ensuring your progression and success in your studies at the University of Suffolk and that we are making every effort to put in place plans to mitigate any unfortunate impacts of the industrial action planned over the coming weeks.

Professor Helen Langton - Vice Chancellor"

Student Council, the meeting where all of your elected reps and officers get together to discuss and vote on ideas to improve the student experience, met in November to discuss the strikes and voted to adopt a neutral position on the strikes where "The SU should take a neutral stance neither for or against strikes but raise awareness to students of the relevant information".

As part of this motion that passed we have created this webpage to inform students, and will also be working with the university to communciate how teaching and support to students will be affected during any industrial action.

You can read the full motion and watch the recording of the recent Student Council below.