We should be proud as a branch that we achieved the necessary turnout for the ballot, which resulted in an overwhelming mandate to take industrial action, should that prove necessary (links to full results below).
We continue to hope that the employers will reconsider their position and that they will seek a negotiated agreement instead of continuing to push through their proposals. The Exeter UCU Branch President wrote a letter to the Vice-Chancellor to ask to avoid the need for the UCU to take this action.
However, we need also to prepare now for sustained industrial action. It is clear that the employers have learned from mistakes they made last time, including trying to defend the indefensible, so they are now resorting to not referring to the cause of the disputes at all. It is also clear that they plan to use our docked pay to fund ‘provision of alternative content’ for students (see the University’s FAQs) and generally to settle down for a long dispute. For us to succeed, we need to achieve the same coalition of staff and students, and the same sense of how these disputes relate to the wider changes in HE and at Exeter we have all found so unsettling. We need to each be prepared to take whatever immediate sacrifices to our pay and to the work we do for our students we each feel able to make to ensure that, once again, we outlast the willingness of the employers to inflict damage on the University.
The Exeter UCU Committee met last week to prepare for the forthcoming industrial action. If we are forced to strike, the Local Hardship Fund will be revived according to the 16-06-2018 Branch motion (details via links to apply and to donate) and we have scheduled an Extraordinary General Meeting for members as follows:
We will be urging all strikers to turn up to the picket lines en masse on the first day, Monday 25th of November – this in itself will have a huge impact on our employers.
We are proposing to the VC that, since Friday 29th of November is also a Climate Strike day, the University, as part of its climate emergency process, should recognise that day officially as a Climate Strike Day for the University, and we will keep you informed on the response.
Please be in touch via the contact form to be involved as volunteers with pickets and strike teach-outs, and with the Communications Officer Claire Foullon to be involved as volunteers in making everything we do highly visible – image is all to our university management.
Student members (including PTAs) are also invited to attend special strike talks and Q&A events on Monday 18th of November:
- In Streatham, the event hosted by the Student Guild is at 5pm in The Alumni Auditorium.
- In Penryn, the event hosted by the Students’ Union is at 5:45pm, Daphne du Maurier Lecture Theatre B.
Please be in touch with the Student Liaison Coordinator Rhian Keyse to volunteer support. Note that attendees (at least in Streatham) will need to bring their student card to be scanned. The scanners are being used for the purpose of confirming student status. They are NOT being used to gather data on attendance or demographics, and no records of attendees will be kept.
* Do I have to declare my intention to strike to management in advance?
No, and you are legally protected from doing so. Declaring your intention to strike to management risks diluting the effectiveness of the action we are taking. If senior management ask you after the strike whether or not you took action, then you must respond truthfully.
* Should I cancel my classes if I intend to strike?
No, on a strike day the management team in your College/discipline will need to decide whether to cancel your classes or whether they should go ahead, based on who turns up for work.
* Is there advice on what I should tell my students?
Yes, see updated UCU FAQ here, which contains leaflets and links to a video. The National Union of Students has confirmed that it will stand ‘shoulder to shoulder’ with us. The national disputes committee have written a letter for circulation to students explaining the background of the dispute. You could also refer them to the UCU student lobby, where students are given a model template to help them write to the University asking them to listen to staff concerns.
* What should an out-of-office email reply say?
Some members will wish to set an out-of-office email message, which is an opportunity to explain why you are taking action. The union has also prepared a suggested text to add to your out of office during strike action, and to add to your email signature or footer during action short of a strike. The text is available here in both Welsh and English.
* Should I reschedule classes lost due to the strike action?
* What about assessments affected by the strike action?
You should discuss this with your Head of Department on your return to work. You should not be undertaking the same or similar work that has been lost due to the action in addition to your normal workload. If your Head of Department wants you to reprioritise work on rescheduling assessment in place of other work you would normally do, then you should comply with any such reasonable request.