We want to start by saying how grateful we are for all the support we have received from University of Leeds students. Every supportive email or kind word to striking staff; every signature on open letters or email to the Vice-Chancellor; every student joining us at rallies, speaking out on Twitter or coming to speak to us in person, supports us in our action. We stand firm because of you and your support and we are determined to win this dispute in order to provide you with the learning environment you deserve.
We regret that, whilst negotiations have moved forward as a result of our action in November and December, we are not yet close enough to that win to call off action. As a result we have called strike action in February and March, on these dates:
- Week one – Thursday 20 & Friday 21 February
- Week two – Monday 24, Tuesday 25 & Wednesday 26 February
- Week three – Monday 2, Tuesday 3, Wednesday 4 & Thursday 5 March
- Week four – Monday 9, Tuesday 10, Wednesday 11, Thursday 12 & Friday 13 March
We very much hope that the employers will continue negotiating with our national negotiators and will come back to us with improved offers either before the strikes start or during the strikes. If they do so, the strikes may still be called off either before they start, or whilst they are happening – the gaps between strike days are intended to enable that to happen. But if we have to, we will be striking for these 14 days.
We are sorry for the disruption that this causes you and we wanted to reassure you about certain things.
We are deeply grateful to those students who choose to express support for us by not crossing our picket line on strike days. We call upon the University to respect students’ right to do this by moving deadlines and not penalising absence. However, in the event that they do not do this, please don’t risk late penalties and disciplinary action against you, and please don’t miss out on using the support services on campus that you need. If you are on a Tier 4 visa please also don’t risk being reported to the immigration authorities for the sake of not crossing a picket line. We see your support, and that is what matters.
We are encouraging our members to talk to you about the strike, their plans and their reasons for striking, so that you know what is going on with your teaching. Striking staff do have the legal right to not tell our employer in advance that we are striking, and that includes telling other members of staff. That does not mean that staff can’t inform students of their plans, once they have made them, and we encourage them to do so. One thing to bear in mind is that many of the people teaching you are on hourly paid contracts – the sheer number of staff at the University on these contracts with unacceptable working conditions is one of the reasons why we are striking. This often means that they do not have the same access to email lists or Minerva as permanently contracted staff and may make it harder for them to contact you directly (which is a problem in itself).
Decisions about what will be in your assessments are not decisions which individual staff members can take alone. But we are fully supportive of the principle that you should not be assessed on topics which have not been taught as part of strike action, and we encourage our members to support measures which ensure that you are assessed fairly, as long as they do not involve rescheduling teaching.
Staff members will be losing pay for every day they strike. The University has in the past donated money that they save due to this for use in student hardship funds and towards student mental health support and we are calling on them to do the same again.
Please continue to talk to us, ask us questions and show us support. Students and staff are this university, and we stand together always.
[over the next few days we will be updating our website with more information for students, including information about rallies and marches you can join with us, teachouts, which are sessions we run near campus so that students can keep learning, and other ways you can support]