WHEN ARE STRIKES PLANNED?
Wednesday 15th March ACTION SUSPENDED
Thursday 16th March ACTION SUSPENDED
Monday 20th March ACTION SUSPENDED
Tuesday 21st March ACTION SUSPENDED
Wednesday 22nd March ACTION SUSPENDED
Monday 27th March
Tuesday 28th March
Thursday 30th March
Tuesday 18th April
Wednesday 19th April
Thursday 20th April
WHO ARE THE UCU?
The University and College Union (UCU) are the trade union representing academic and support staff in UK universities.
Find out more about what Trade Unions do
The BCU branch of the University and College Union (UCU) represents over 600 academic and professional services staff at the university. They look out for the wellbeing of staff and provide a voice for their members in key university matters. The UCU are the only union recognised by the University.
The BCU branch of the University and College Union are not involved in national strike action, and bargain and take industrial action independently. So that means any deal negotiated with the UCU nationally does not apply to BCU.
Find out more about the BCU branch of the UCU here
Members of the BCU UCU are currently taking ‘action short of a strike’, which means staff will be:
- working to contracted hours
- 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.
BCU UCU have also served notice of strike action, which forms part of what the UCU describe as ‘escalating action’, which hopes to create leverage for staff to negotiate for a better offer from university management.
Like many other trade unions across the country, the UCU are negotiating with the university for an increase in pay that addresses the high rate of inflation that is contributing to the Cost of Living crisis.
Read the latest on the pay dispute on iCity
There has also been a gradual increase in academic workload as student numbers and expectations have increased. Across the sector, there are also some pay disparities, where women, BME and disabled staff are on average paid less than those who are male, white and non-disabled.
They are also asking for other changes such as ending precarious employment practices (insecure temporary contracts etc.) by universities, and action to close gender, ethnicity and disability pay gaps.
UCU are also in a dispute about the pension scheme, asking universities to reverse changes in the pension scheme made last year by reducing staff pension contributions and increasing the amount that staff will receive in pension payments.
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR YOU?
Navigating strike action can be very difficult as a student, and its hard to predict how your studies might be affected as the UCU represents staff across a variety of academic and professional services roles (ie. teaching staff, library staff, administrative support etc.).
Staff who are choosing to strike are under no obligation to disclose their intention to BCU or students beforehand and may not commit to striking on all days. Some staff members may choose to inform their students ahead of time. Students should keep an eye on their emails and Moodle pages for updates on disruption to their teaching.
The university released a statement on 2nd March from Deputy Vice Chancellor Peter Francis:
‘I want to reassure you that teaching continues as normal. Despite the news of strike action, BCU is doing everything possible to minimise the impact on you and your education. You should attend timetabled sessions as normal, and I will continue to keep you updated.’
However, students should bear in mind that industrial action may mean that classes or lectures are cancelled, labs and spaces are closed or have limited availability, and that some offices and student support services may not be fully staffed.
When you come onto campus, you may see a picket line of UCU members outside some BCU buildings. Staff may ask you not to cross their picket line, but they are not allowed to prevent you from entering buildings.
Students with concerns about how strike action will affect their studies should reach out to their Vice President Student Voice or Academic Experience, or their Course or School Rep.
Contact VP Voice Contact VP Academic Experience
If you are here on a student visa you will not be penalised if you are unable to attend classes that have been cancelled due to the strike action.
The UKVI Sponsor guidance confirms that if academic activity or teaching is cancelled due to industrial action, it should not be treated as an unauthorised absence and therefore should not affect a Student’s visa status.
International students concerned about the terms of their student visa due to missed teaching as a result of industrial action should contact the International Student Visa Advice Team
International Student Visa Advice Team
WHAT ARE YOUR RIGHTS?
The Office for Students (OfS) states that all students have a contractual relationship with their university, which means they are protected by consumer protection law. OfS is clear that universities and colleges must continue to offer the service they have promised to students, even during periods of industrial action.
It is reasonable to expect that BCU will make every effort to make up for lost learning. Each School and Department may take a different approach to this.
OfS says that students could expect their university to do the following:
- The university should be proactive in resolving issues related to missed teaching. If teaching time is lost, it may be appropriate for catch-up teaching to be offered at a later time, missed course content to be delivered in a different way, or for partial refunds to be offered to affected students.
- The university should take steps to ensure that students are not disadvantaged in assessment by any disruption. It might be appropriate for coursework deadlines to be extended or moved, or for certain topics to not be examined if they have not been delivered in time.
- The university should explain clearly any changes made to how the course is delivered and how they will affect students. Providers should keep students informed of the impact of ongoing disruption and give students reasonable notice of any new arrangements.
- Universities and colleges should consider the needs of all students in responding to industrial action, particularly those who may be more affected than others, or may have difficulties accessing replacement learning.
Read more from the Office for Students on your rights
WHAT ARE THE STUDENTS’ UNION DOING?
Your Students’ Union acknowledge that staff are taking the action they deem necessary to improve their working conditions and therefore the learning and teaching experience they are able to offer to students.
Your Students’ Union are focussed on supporting BCU students throughout industrial action; whether that is through assistance navigating disruption to studies, signposting to support services, and providing support to students who wish to stand in solidarity with striking staff.
Students can make their voice heard regarding supporting striking staff by visiting the Ideas Board. Students are welcome to comment on the idea about their thoughts and experiences regarding the strike action.
'Supporting Striking Staff' Idea
WHERE CAN I GET MORE INFORMATION?
We will continually post new and updated information on strike action as soon as we receive it to BCUSU.com and our social media channels.
Important updates from the university will be emailed to students or be posted on iCity.
Read the NUS's statement Read the UCU and NUS's joint statement
UCU strike student leaflet BCU UCU on Twitter
HOW CAN STUDENTS SUPPORT STRIKING STAFF?
If students wish to show solidarity with striking staff, there are many options:
Send a letter to the Vice Chancellor about how you feel about striking staff.
The NUS have prepared a template letter to help you write to the VC.
Send a letter to the Vice Chancellor
Support staff on picket lines
Students may support staff on picket lines, there are very strict laws and regulations around picketing and we advise any students wishing to support an active picket line read the guidance from the NUS.
Read this guide from the NUS about supporting picket lines
We will do our best to keep students updated with information on current picket lines, but we encourage interested students to keep up to date with the UCU branch via twitter @bcu_ucu.
UCU Supporter Resources
If students want to create signs or banners to use to support staff on picket lines, the Activities and Representation Team can support with art materials, students should contact SU Reception or an ART Coordinator to arrange a session.
Attend teach outs
Some striking staff may choose to hold lectures in public spaces off campus.
If you can, don’t cross the picket line.
It might not be possible for you, but if you can work/study from home or in public spaces, and access services you need online. It is your choice as to whether you want to cross a picket line, staff cannot stop you from entering campus.