As you probably know a many university staff will be on strike for eight working days (Monday 25th November – Wednesday 4th December). This includes lecturers, researchers, librarians, IT staff and student support staff. The strikes are about precarious employment (‘casualisation’), excessive workloads, pay inequality (there are substantial pay gaps for women and black and ethnic minority staff), reduced pay and threats to pensions. Staff feel conflicted about this – we don’t want to harm your education, but our union has tried incredibly hard to negotiate on these issues and it now seems the only thing university employers will listen to is strikes.
These are national disputes and 60 universities across the UK will see strike action (unless the university employers come back to meaningful negotiations first).
What are the strikes about?
You can read some background here.
The National Union of Students supports the strikes, see
this joint statement
and watch this short video.
What to expect
- All activities during the strike action are potentially at risk;
- Teaching will be cancelled on strike days;
- Other activities such as emailing and marking will also be delayed.
Strikes and picketing
- Staff who are on strike don’t work and don’t get paid on strike days. We ask that the money the university saves on our pay is put into the Student Hardship Fund and to support student mental health.
- Some strikers will stand outside campus entrances to picket, which means peacefully talking to colleagues as they arrive and encouraging them not to go to work and to join the union. This is called a ‘picket line’. Picketers have placards and give out leaflets. We will be picketing from 7:30 to 11:30 each day of the strikes.
- Supporters can stand with the picketers to show solidarity, chat and ask questions. Students are very welcome to do this, but cannot be pickets themselves (i.e. wear a picket armband, carry an ‘official picket’ placard, or speak to members of staff to dissuade them from going into work).
- Students can show solidarity by not crossing the picket line and not attending lectures or classes. BUT, if you are on a Tier 4 visa you should attend all lectures and study activities as normal or it is likely to be counted as an unauthorised absence, reportable to the Home Office.
- UCU will also be holding a rally on the Parkinson steps each day of the strikes from about 11:30 – 12 noon. We would be delighted if students join us to show support!
- On the final day of the strikes, Wednesday 4th December, we will be marching from Parkinson steps down to the Town Hall for a final big rally. Students and student groups are very welcome to join us.
We encourage you to engage with some of the picketers at least once. Ask about the strike, find out more and exchange different ideas and opinions, e.g. about what is driving universities to affect their staff in these ways, how Higher Education is being marketised, and how this can be resisted.
‘Striking Insights’ teach outs
We love teaching, so on strike days we’ll be running a ‘Teach Out’ just outside campus including a great variety of free lectures and discussions. See the programme here – it’s still evolving so keep checking back for changes and additionsThe programme is still being planned – look out for details later.
Student support for our strikes
- Many students have been emailing or talking to their lecturers to support them. This means a lot to us!
- There’s a student Facebook group ‘Leeds Students Support UCU’ which you could join and get involved.
- A group of students have produced an Open Letter to the university’s management which you could sign, which also asks for fee refunds, see https://forms.gle/RnMNd8EK1CrwqiyJA
What else can you do to help?
- Lobby Leeds University Union to support UCU in this dispute (see the initial LUU statement)
- Complain to the Vice Chancellor of the University (email@example.com and copy to firstname.lastname@example.org). Whether you are in favour or against the strike your opinion is important and student concerns need to be heard. We suggest you also ask that the strike pay deductions are put towards the Student Hardship Fund and student mental health support.
- Post your support on social media with #ucustrike and tag us – follow, like, retweet (we’re on Facebook and Twitter)
- Join the march and rally on 4th December
- Come to some of the ‘Striking Insights’ teach-out sessions and tell your friends.
- Download and share this poster (Word format)
- Discuss the strike with other students and encourage them to support the strike.
Many thanks for your support. With enough pressure from staff and students, the employers will come back to negotiate and we can carry on teaching and learning.