The University’s policy of withholding pay for strike action reads “If you participate in the UCU action short of a strike from Monday 25 November 2019 and you complete the priority activities following the timescale set out in the email sent from your Pro-Vice-Chancellor (for academic colleagues) or from the Registrar (for Professional Services colleagues) on Thursday 5 December 2019, the University will not withhold any pay for breach of contract for action short of a strike. If you do not complete the priority activities in accordance with the timescale set out in this message, then the University will withhold 25% of each day’s pay from Thursday 5 December 2019 until the priority activities are completed.”
Members from across all Colleges have received an email from their respective College Deans on Thursday 5th December, all these emails were identical and were seeking to minimise the effects of our industrial action, specifically
- “To ensure the learning opportunities of any missed teaching are recovered by providing alternative educational provision by the end of this term, Friday 13 December. This could include putting material on ELE to support students to achieve the learning outcomes from sessions that might have been disrupted during the strike.
- To reschedule any missed timetabled assessments at the earliest opportunity
- To review/amend any January exam papers to ensure students do not have to answer questions on content that may have been interrupted during the strike – please bear in mind we have assured students that there will be no mandatory questions set on material missed as a result of the strike, even where it has been covered by alternative provision.”
In general, the demand that teaching staff perform extra teaching activities in the period immediately following a strike over and above those they would have performed in that period, in such a way that overall no teaching is lost, undermines the right of teaching staff to withdraw their labour.
It is quite possible to conform to the requirements of the OfS without making this demand.
In the present case, demanding that teaching staff cram an extra eight days worth of teaching into the remainder of term, alongside teaching already scheduled for that period, creates a serious burden of stress on those staff and raises individual health and welfare implications. It may put the institution in breach of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 (sec. 3), which apply to mental as well as physical health.
Such cramming would be logistically impossible given the limits on teaching space in most institutions.
It would also be detrimental to students’ education and indeed their wellbeing.
Our ASOS does not include a marking and assessment boycott. UCU provides more detailed advice for working to contract and advice for academic-related and professional services staff. We will continue to update you here and provide further guidance in response to the threat.