Once again, you are amazing. It is an incredible feeling to walk round visiting bumper numbers of pickets in “challenging” weather and to find everyone smiling (also willing to dance and do star jumps on camera), upbeat, and engaging really positively with students, staff, and passers-by about why we are taking industrial action. You’re all just really brilliant! [Professional video evidence: coming soon…]
We are also sending thanks to our sister unions on campus and all staff and students who support us – of whom there are many. We have been kept in tea, coffee, cakes, and hugs by this incredible solidarity. It has brought home the real meaning of the #WeAreTheUniversity hashtag.
It is essential that we now keep up the pressure. We have had a very successful first week of action. We are absolutely certain that without your courage to take industrial action on this scale, we would not have seen any of the progress made so far. We are now in a phase of Action Short Of Strike (ASOS) and are set to take further strike action next week (Mon 5 – Thurs 8 March inclusive) and the week following (Mon 12 – Fri 16 March inclusive).
We urge all members to observe all aspects of the action to its fullest extent
. This is how we will win. Please remember a large set of Frequently Asked Questions on the action are [here]
and we have put additional guidance on our [website]
including this [post]
about reporting your strike action.
Despite the outrageous threats of further deductions for taking ASOS, all UCU members are called on to refuse to reschedule lectures or classes
. This includes the kind of work that would facilitate such a rescheduling – see [FAQ point 7]
If you are asked to reschedule non-teaching related work, you should comply BUT ask what you should drop in order to prioritise that work, and do not work outside the ASOS to get that done.
We are writing an open letter on behalf of all members to the Vice Chancellor and senior management, regarding the issue of planned deductions for taking ASOS. This is unprecedented at Leeds and has already broken down staff trust and goodwill. The text will be available online tomorrow.
We will go into work tomorrow having taken 5 days of industrial action, which continues in our Action Short Of Strike and in our further strike action in coming weeks. Many of you have questions about how reporting on action should work, how to deal with questions from managers and colleagues, and what to do if you encounter any problems. Check out [this guide]
for what to do tomorrow and for after the next phases of industrial action.
Where we are
We are collectively exerting significant pressure through our action, and it is already having a significant effect. After our first five days of solid industrial action, university employers have:
- Met with UCU for talks
- Agreed to arbitration facilitated by ACAS (starting Monday)
- Finally shown some acknowledgement that the figure given for the USS pension ‘deficit’ depends on a set of assumptions that are open to question (especially as the ones used for USS are based on a ludicrous premise that all UK universities in the scheme might go bust at once and have to be ‘rescued’)
- Agreed to have a look at other proposals
As our General Secretary Sally Hunt noted in her email this afternoon, we have already begun to see some shifting among the employers’ side, which includes a growing number of Vice Chancellors who have been willing to call for further talks to reach an amicable agreement with the union. Some of this group have pushed for the employers’ side to engage properly with UCU’s analysis and concerns of the threatened changes to the USS pension scheme. To our knowledge, the Vice Chancellor for the University of Leeds is not among either group, despite countless emails from staff, students, alumni, and even local MPs.
Stand Firm, heads held high
We are standing up for our right to a decent quality of life in retirement, and for a decent pension. Our fight directly impacts upon the wider fight for decent pensions. By taking industrial action you are standing up for what is right. Walk back into work with your heads held high. And see you on the picket lines on Monday!
Vicky and the Committee