Text from branch president Ben Plumpton’s email to members 22nd November
First, apologies if you have sent a query to me or to firstname.lastname@example.org and you haven’t received a personal reply yet. We’ve had a LOT of messages. I hope that the comprehensive FAQ at https://www.ucu.org.uk/heaction will answer most questions. You could also watch the video of today’s live Q&A session with Jo Grady, UCU General Secretary.
- Thank you to everyone who has signed up already. You can just turn up on the day, but it’s helpful to get an indication of how many people we can expect, please sign up here.
- The pink gazebo will be at the main entrance from 7:30 am every day – please come here first to sign in and get placards and leaflets.
- We’ll suggest where to go with the aim of covering all the entrances, but if you have a particular preference (e.g. if you prefer to picket outside your nearest entrance, or the opposite) you can tell us when you sign in.
- If you haven’t picketed before, we’ll make sure you’re with someone who’s experienced (not that it’s difficult, honestly).
- Wrap up warm with waterproofs/umbrella – the weather forecast at the moment is “light rain and a gentle breeze”.
- We’d love you to bring your own placard or banner.
- Take photos and talk about the strike on social media – it helps to create a buzz and keep others informed. Please tag @leedsucu and use hashtag #UCUstrikes and/or #UCUstrikesback.
- Toilets – you can use the toilets (which include disabled toilets) in the Emmanuel Centre (between the main entrance and Laidlaw Library) and in the Quaker Centre (across the main road from Engineering).
- Discounts in cafes – some local cafes have offered discounts to strikers which is nice. So far: Miro – 10 % discount if you say you are a university striker, Opposite – 10% discount on hot drinks (only) with the slogan “university strike”, Café on Campus on Seminar Street – 10% discount on food and drinks.
- If, for whatever reason, you might find it difficult to stand on a picket line for a long time, or if you might need time to recuperate out of the weather, we have booked a room in the Quaker Centre (across the road from Engineering) from 9 am each day where you can have a bit of a rest. You can also make yourself a hot drink for a donation.
- You don’t have to come in every day, do take some time for yourself. We’d recommend everyone comes in on the first Monday, Tuesday 3rd for the General Meeting, and the final day on Wednesday 4th.
Free hot breakfast!
Unison, our super kind sister union, are going to be providing a free hot breakfast for picketers on Monday 2nd December, so make sure you come picketing on that day!
Rallies daily at 11:30
Pickets and supporters will be meeting up on the Parkinson steps at 11:30 each day for a short rally, including speeches, updates, probably visiting speakers, possibly different themes on different days (this is still being finalised). We hope to see our UCU UK Vice President (our very own Vicky Blake) on some of the days. The Leeds Students Support UCU group will also be speaking.
We have a bit of a tradition at Leeds of singing alternative words to songs. Could you and your colleagues come up with something?
Big march Wednesday 4th December
We’ll be doing a big march down to Leeds Town Hall on Wednesday 4th December, leaving Parkinson steps at about 11:30. Big name speakers, lots of noise, let’s show how determined we still are! We’ll be inviting comrades from Leeds Beckett (who unfortunately just missed the 50% turnout threshold) and from our sister unions to join us, and of course student supporters.
Notifying about striking
Management in some schools/departments have been circulating misleading information. You definitely do not need to notify anyone in advance that you are striking. You do need to notify HR on your first day back, as set out in the email from Francesca Fowler.
Recovering missed learning
You do not have to do anything in advance about this now. Try not to worry about the threatened ASOS (Action Short of a Strike) deductions – no-one at Leeds was deducted for ASOS last year. We will be circulating some guidance next week about this.
Out of office message
Here’s a suggested auto reply for the whole strike period – feel free to adapt as you see fit.
Thank you for your email – this is an auto-reply. I am currently taking part in the University and College Union’s (UCU) strike action about pay equality and a fair pay rise, ending casualisation and excessive workloads, and defending our pensions. Please request that our Vice Chancellor (email@example.com) uses his influence to urge the employer bodies to negotiate meaningfully with UCU. See this useful introduction to the disputes. There is local information on the Leeds UCU website including a page of information for students, and on Twitter.
Climate march Friday 29th November
This is entirely separate from the UCU strikes, but we think many of our members would like to support the Leeds Youth Strike for Climate, on their next big event on this date. There will be a march leaving Parkinson steps at 12:30 to go down to the Town Hall and support the young people as they march round Leeds. Our sister unions and some student groups will be joining UCU members for this. Some of our teach outs will be themed around climate issues too.
General Meeting and financial claims surgery
Don’t forget our next General Meeting is on Tuesday 3rd December, and we’ll be discussing proposals to make Hardship Fund payments more generous.
Our local Hardship Fund is growing daily from the donations coming in from higher paid members and from other supporters. Many thanks to all.
Immediately after the General Meeting, branch officers will be at the Quaker Centre to help members with claiming from both the national Strike Fund and the local Hardship Fund. We want to make this as straightforward as possible and to ensure members get paid as quickly as possible, especially those who are hourly paid and precariously employed.
More about all this at www.leedsucu.org.uk/fighting-fund-and-hardship-fund
‘Striking Insights’ Teach Outs
We now have an amazing programme for this, see https://tinyurl.com/vn7ot7t All students welcome, and strikers and supporters. Thank you to everyone who volunteered to run a session.
We’re pleased to see that more and more colleagues are joining the union and wanting to join us on strike. Please encourage your colleagues to join – it’s easy to join online or by phone, and people can do so right up to the point of arriving for work. See https://www.ucu.org.uk/join
Right then, I think that’s everything. I’m sure that with your support, and the same at 60 other universities round the country, we can win this dispute.
See you on the picket lines!
University of Leeds UCU President