Welcome to solidarity. From 24th – 29th September 2023, Leeds University UCU members will be on strike. Pay and working conditions negotiations between unions and the employer’s governing body, UCEA, reached an impasse in March,and after a marking and assessment boycott failed to bring employers to the negotiating table, UCU’s Higher Education Committee (HEC) called this action to further pressure our employers into returning to the negotiating table. Our dispute is called Four Fights – more information here – because we want action on:
- Gender, ethnicity and disability pay gaps
At the University of Leeds, we are also keen to use this strike to improve local conditions and to demand management pay staff in full since they are now doing the marking they boycotted in summer – many staff lost 100% of their pay for up to 21 days, despite continuing to work and now making up the marking. The university has offered to return 50% of their wages but this is not enough. Staff morale and trust in senior management is low and the university needs to commit to work closely with unions and return wages in full in order to start to repair the damage and build towards better working conditions in the future. Better paid, more securely employed, healthier staff would mean a better learning environment for you.
We, your teachers and professional services staff, want to continue to put the interest of students first, as we have tried to do throughout these disputes. It has been extremely hard to decide to strike during welcome week, when relationships with students are built and renewed – but we gave the university every chance to prevent this strike and they did not take it. Although we cannot welcome you into your studies in the usual way, we will be on the picket line and available to talk about collective action and the power of standing together. This is why we are referring to this strike as ‘Welcome to Solidarity’ – we hope our example will be empowering and you can be involved in unions in your own life to improve your own situation and that of others. While a volatile situation, we will continue to communicate with you.
What is in your power
You can raise a Notification with the Office for Students (OfS). The OfS is the regulatory body for UK Higher Education and relies on students raising concerns (as well as regular reporting by university governing bodies) to address issues with the student experience. A formal complaint is a lengthy process, but a ‘Notification’ makes OfS aware that the Leeds Senior Management Team has, whatever their claims, allowed disruption to students’ education.
Stay in touch
We will keep you informed via our website. We want to keep you in the loop and continue to work with students to build a university that is supportive of everyone.
During the 24th-25th of September, you are welcome to join us on our picket lines on Parkinson steps at 1130 every day, and/or join us online for some truly free education via our teachout programme, which is currently a work in progress but watch this space.
You can reach out to us to discuss concerns and plans. You can find the Leeds UCU union branch on twitter (@leedsucu) or via firstname.lastname@example.org Leeds Student Staff Solidarity has a helpful overview of student support. You can find them on twitter (@SSSLeeds).
We hope that with your help, the Senior Management Team will engage in meaningful negotiations so that together with management we can improve your learning conditions and our working conditions.
Your teachers and professional services staff.
This page was last updated on 24 September 2023