-for Exeter UCU members. If you read this and think something else should be addressed here, please email eucucom@exeter.ac.uk.

1.When are we striking?

Our next days of strike action are Monday 20, Tuesday 21 and Wednesday 22 March.
PLEASE NOTE: Picketing is more limited this week.
Exeter, Streatham: WEDNESDAY ONLY (time and locations tbc)
Cornwall, Penryn: MONDAY ONLY, 8-10 (Tremough Campus, car drive entrance off Treliever Rd)

The full list of strike days can be found HERE.

2.Why are we striking?

Because our pay and working conditions, and the USS pension scheme many of us belong to, have been undermined, devalued, ignored and subjected to unjustified attack by Higher Education employers for many years. The two national disputes under the ‘UCU Rising‘ umbrella are an attempt to stop this, and renewed strike action is necessary because employers continue to refuse to make any substantive offer for rectifying these longstanding issues.

3.Do I have to disclose that I intend to go on strike?

No, not to anybody. And UCU strongly advises members not to do so because this can facilitate our employer’s attempts to ‘mitigate’ the impact of strike action. Once you have returned to work after any period of strike action (i.e. after each block of strike days, not just after the whole 18 scheduled days), you must reply truthfully if and when you are asked by your employer if you participated. But it is up to the employer to request this information in an appropriate manner: you do not need to volunteer it.

4.Do I have to tell my students that I intend to go on strike?

No. Many members do so, and it can be a useful opportunity to engage with students, but you are not obliged to do this. It is the employer’s responsibility to inform students about the potential for disruption (though, of course, the employer does not know if you personally are going to be part of that disruption). Likewise, it is the employer’s responsibility to field student concerns about the impact of any strike action.

See also the student section of our general ‘Strike 2023‘ webpage for material you could share with your students.

5.I’m not sure if I can afford to go on strike for 18 days? What do I do?

Of course, UCU very much hopes that all 18 days will not be necessary: that all depends on the behaviour of employers. But this is a significant dilemma for many members, and we hope to be able to offer discussion about this within the branch in the near future, and certainly before the first longer block of action begins on 9 February. Here are two things which you may find useful for now:

a)Calculate how much you are actually likely to be deducted for each day of strike action: it may be less than you originally feared (though of course still worse than facing no deduction at all):
-You can try using this online deduction calculator (with apologies to members whose employment status does not produce the ‘right’ data for this)
-See this post by Sarah Joss (Heriot-Watt UCU) for a detailed explanation of how pay deductions actually work, and why they might be less than you think

b)Take a look at the financial support UCU currently offers to members facing pay deductions, to get a sense of how much help you may be able to rely on. There are two elements to this:
i)the national Fighting Fund, available to all members nationwide
…and then after you have completed an application to this…
ii)the local Exeter UCU Hardship Fund, available only to Exeter UCU members

Both funds prioritise those in particular hardship, but there is a longstanding commitment to helping ALL members who apply to these funds.

In combination, under current fund rules, members can reasonably expect to receive some financial support for the first TWELVE days they strike on (this would include any action taken in November 2022).The caps in place on daily claims will cover a substantial amount of a typical member’s pay on any given day – but, unsurprisingly, the funds would not be able to cope if all 70,000 members claimed the full amount for every single day of action. The level of support given will therefore depend on both your financial situation relative to other members making claims AND the total monies available in each fund. The funds also rely on members exercising discretion and, wherever possible, limiting their claims if they are fortunate enough to have the financial resources to do so.

Based on these two funds’ pretty successful record in past rounds of industrial action, it seems reasonable to be hopeful that meaningful support WILL BE AVAILABLE if and when you need it. Equally, it is clear that a commitment to strike action does almost always come at some financial cost. It is the UCU’s strong belief that this cost is justified by the severity of the threats posed to members individual and collective interests (financial and otherwise) by our employers’ entrenched and destructive policies on your pay, your working conditions and the pensions of those of us in USS. It is also worth remembering that members’ willingness to expose themselves to the financial cost of strike action is a valuable tool when it comes to demonstrating our collective strength of feeling over pay/working conditions and pensions: to our employer, to colleagues who are non-members, to students and to the general public.

6.What else can I do to support the planned strike action?

In addition to going on strike, members who are able to might consider doing the following:

a)make a donation to the national Fighting Fund and/or our local Hardship Fund

b)volunteer to help with picket line administration and picket activities (email eucucom@exeter.ac.uk)

c)consider joining the branch Committee (email President.EUCU@exeter.ac.uk)

d)discuss the strike action with any students you are in contact with, refer them to the student section of our ‘Strike 2023′ webpage, and ask them to write to the VC and to the Students’ Guild in support of our action.

e)talk about these national disputes and the strikes to colleagues who are non-members, and ask that they consider either joining UCU and our action and/or making a donation (see 6a) if they are sympathetic

If you need any further guidance, on the above or any other issues, please email the branch committee (eucucom@exeter.ac.uk) or any individual committee member.