Industrial action

Monday 21 November 2022

In an email to all staff and students today (Monday 21 November), the Proctor outlined upcoming UCU strike action at the University.

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Dear Students,

cc University Staff

As you may already know, members of the University and College Union (UCU) at 150 universities in the UK, including St Andrews, have voted to take industrial action in respect of two separate national disputes on pay and pensions.

UCU has announced three days of strike action:

  • Thursday 24 November
  • Friday 25 November
  • Wednesday 30 November

UCU have also called on their members to take action short of a strike (ASOS), continuously, from Wednesday 23 November. This may include working to rule, not making up work lost as a result of strike action, and not covering for absent colleagues.

These are national disputes which can only be resolved by negotiation at a national level. Universities cannot negotiate their own settlements locally.

In St Andrews, we have consistently called for national settlements which are fair to staff and sustainable for institutions, and this will continue to be our position. We acknowledge the right of UCU members to take industrial action, their concerns about pay and pensions, and the fact that those who choose to take action in St Andrews will do so with a heavy heart.

Not all St Andrews staff are UCU members and not all UCU members in St Andrews will necessarily take industrial action. The University has more than 2000 staff, approximately 600 of whom are members of UCU.

In St Andrews, we are a community which cares deeply about our students as well as our staff and naturally we hope that disruption to you, our students, will be minimised. The briefing below provides updates on how teaching and assessment may be affected, and the steps that will be taken to mitigate the impact on you and your education.

Another email will be sent to all students should there be any changes to the action called by UCU.

With kind regards,

Professor Clare Peddie
Vice-Principal Education (Proctor)
University of St Andrews


FAQs

When are the strike days?

UCU has announced three days of strike action:

  • Thursday 24 November
  • Friday 25 November
  • Wednesday 30 November

The above action will have no impact on the planned examinations diet, which is due to commence on Saturday 3 December as scheduled.

What is action short of a strike?

Action short of a strike (ASOS) will take effect from Wednesday 23 November.

The current ASOS mandate from UCU involves: only working to contract; not undertaking any voluntary activities; not covering for absent colleagues; removing uploaded materials and/or not sharing materials related to lectures or classes that will be or have been cancelled as a result of strike action; and not rescheduling lectures or classes cancelled due to strike action.

ASOS should not normally affect the teaching or assessment of students.

What is a strike?

UCU members who are taking strike action will not work on the strike days. As is normal practice in these circumstances, the University will withhold pay from UCU members for each day of strike action taken. 100% of pay withheld will be used to support student welfare. The University does not stand to gain financially from industrial action.

How will I know if my classes are to be cancelled?

Staff are not obliged to inform anyone in advance if they are taking action, therefore classes on the strike days may be cancelled at short notice.

How widespread is the UCU action likely to be in St Andrews?

Normally only UCU members take part in action. Only a proportion of academic, professional, and managerial staff at St Andrews are members of UCU.

What about submission of continuous assessment during the strike dates?

Unless you are contacted by your School to inform you otherwise all submission deadlines for items of continuous assessment will still apply. If, for any reason, you wish to request an extension and your Module Co-ordinator is not available on the strike days please contact your Director of Teaching or Head of School.

Will exam marking be affected by the industrial action?

We currently expect that all exam marking and reporting of results from Semester 1 modules will be completed.

Will the library and other learning facilities remain open during the strike?

Yes, the library and all learning facilities will remain open throughout the strike.

Am I able to cross a picket line?

You may encounter a picket line at the entrances to some buildings; picketing should be peaceful, respectful, and non-threatening. Whilst pickets can ask you not to cross the picket line, students and staff will not be prevented from entering buildings.

What is being done to support students?

We will ask all Heads of Schools and Units to take all reasonable steps to mitigate the impact of the action on students. We will remind all colleagues that all assessment, both of examinations and of continuous assessment, must be fair and flexible.

We will work with the Students’ Association representatives so that they too can also address any concerns or questions students may have about the action


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