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Anyone in the UCU?

(660 Posts)
Closetlibrarian Thu 25-Jan-18 20:51:43

And striking at end of Feb?

I joined UCU after the last strike, so this will be my first. Even though I voted in favour it, I'm now in an utter quandary. I have an absolute monster of a semester coming up and I'm fretting about all the lectures, tutorials, etc, I'll have to cancel as part of the strike.

If you've gone on strike before how did you present it to your students so that they didn't just get really pissed off with you for cancelling lectures (that we're then, according to UCU, not supposed to reschedule)?

Also, how did you mange with the loss of income? I'm the 'breadwinner', so 14 days of strike action is going to massively impact us (i.e. I'm not sure we'll be able to pay our bills).

Deianira Thu 25-Jan-18 20:59:08

I feel the same. I similarly have a heavy semester of teaching coming up, and am very worried about missing parts of it. Particularly because I teach a language course this semester, so the students will really struggle to make up that material by themselves in my absence. Last time we went on strike I ended up teaching my hours, but did nothing else. I explained what was going on to the students (precarious employment also had a part in it). In fact they were very supportive of the strike overall, and of other lecturers who didn't teach. That was a much shorter strike, however, and I'm not sure their patience will last forever...

But it is extremely difficult. I'm sorry that I don't have any advice really - just wanted to say that you're not alone in worrying about it!

Inthedeepdarkwinter Thu 25-Jan-18 21:22:15

I did not know it was for 14 days! I cannot live off half a salary! I really hadn't thought this through when I voted.

I don't think I can strike if this is the case. I have before in the past, for only 2/3 days at a time.

Deianira Thu 25-Jan-18 21:36:06

It's 14 days spread across two months of salary given where the dates fall, if that helps at all.

Inthedeepdarkwinter Thu 25-Jan-18 21:45:24

Thanks Deianira, I just hadn't thought it through. Still not sure what to do.

MaryWortleyMontagu Thu 25-Jan-18 21:51:32

I'm in UCU but not teaching staff. Still dreading the prospect of losing 14 days pay (plus I think in my institution it will be 14 days in one pay period due to the way our dates work out) and the amount of work I'll have to deal with post strike. However the prospect is losing hundreds of thousands of pounds in retirement.... hmm

SoupyNorman Thu 25-Jan-18 22:25:25

UCU is asking members not to reschedule teaching, btw.

Deinara just teaching your hours is probably the most pointless way to go about things - you pile up your other work and cause zero disruption to your institution.

Closetlibrarian Fri 26-Jan-18 07:16:24

Glad I'm not the only one worrying!

I'm hoping UCU will send out some sort of email advising us on how to talk to students about this so that they are on side, rather than disgruntled at getting even less teaching that they think they 'deserve' for their £9k a year.

And yes, the loss of income, even spread over two pay packets, will be a massive issue for us. I can't help thinking that we're the ones who are going to lose out over this whole thing (pissed off students, less pay, and I expect the University's won't back down in the end anyway). Ugh. I think I need someone to give me a strike pep talk!

icetip Fri 26-Jan-18 10:55:21

UCU might well be advising not to reschedule classes but expect your institution to state upfront that they expect this to be done, and to be prioritised over other matters. If you then don't it's likely to be a breach of contract and you'll lose more money.
I wish UCU would properly advise members. They didn't mention 14 days when they balloted!

SoupyNorman Fri 26-Jan-18 11:51:55

So they can dock you further pay if you refuse to reschedule classes? What's the law on that? Are there any examples of institutions doing that?

I really doubt that is the case, as that would undermine the whole possibility of industrial action.

I've learned to take communications from my institution around striking with a pinch of salt, as they inevitably try and terrify people into folding.

icetip Fri 26-Jan-18 12:46:07

Your pay is docked because you are in breach of contract. Refusing to reschedule could be considered in this way.

user1494149444 Mon 29-Jan-18 10:07:48

Let's face it, the only reason many academics have stayed in HE, given all the nonsense they've had to deal with for many years, is the pension was a good one.
I think the strike has to focus not just on pensions, but also on senior executive pay in the sector, that way it will resonate more with the public and students alike.

LisaSimpsonsbff Thu 01-Feb-18 12:16:27

Glad I found this thread, and that other people are also worried! I don't know what I'm going to do if this strike goes ahead - I never saw myself crossing a picket line, but I'm not sure what else to do. I'm a researcher on a temporary contract who also teaches two courses on an hourly paid basis for another university (with my PI's blessing, btw!) - all that teaching is on one day a week, so I'd lose 14 days' pay from my job PLUS nearly a third of my total pay for this term's teaching. I'm pregnant, already terrified about whether I'm going to get another job after this contract and WTH we'll do if not. We can't afford it. Less selfishly, I'm also pretty reluctant to stop teaching the courses - one of which is final year - for three weeks; they will feel, not completely unfairly, totally screwed over.

TulipsInAJug Thu 01-Feb-18 13:48:20

I think the strike has to focus not just on pensions, but also on senior executive pay in the sector, that way it will resonate more with the public and students alike

Absolutely. Having taught in HE on part-time temporary contracts for 11 years, pensions are the last thing on my mind. Job insecurity is a far bigger issue. The UCU needs to start focusing on the erosion of rights and rubbish, or non-existent, contracts.

TheUncommonReader Thu 01-Feb-18 14:01:50

I’m in the UCU but don’t have a USS pension. I’m really cross that they want 14 days of strike action. I’m a researcher, part time, on a fixed term contract and cannot afford to lose half my monthly pay.

Closetlibrarian Thu 01-Feb-18 14:25:55

Yes, I agree there are other 'more important' things like job security. However, I (as the OP) have reconciled myself with this strike having read more about it and thought more about it since I first posted. Pensions is the urgent issue - as in, if a stand isn't taken now the changes will be made by USS/ UUK to the pension and there will be no going back.

Also, if there's no protest over this then we don't have even the slightest chance of having any clout in discussions over things like job insecurity and short-term contracts (which is an issue on UCU's agenda)

I've got over my panic over the missed lectures, etc. I'll just rejig my syllabi accordingly to cover the material in other weeks and/or drop some topics. I'm still anxious about the loss of pay, but as UCU point out - the potential loss in pension is far greater. There's also the 'strike pay' being offered by UCU. Not sure if I'll qualify for this, but Lisa you should look into it.

Anyway, I guess my point is that now it's clear the strike is going ahead I've realised that I cannot, in all good conscience, cross the picket line. UUK's refusal to negotiate over pensions is symptomatic of a wider culture that includes casualised labour and lack of job security.

Popartist Thu 01-Feb-18 14:48:55

UCU have posted a video on their website about how to explain the strike to students.

Popartist Thu 01-Feb-18 14:53:22

Here is the link to the video:

HuckfromScandal Thu 01-Feb-18 15:00:44

Whilst the strike is set to happen over 14 days, I am sure that UCU will be qwokring hard in the background to bring this to a resolution as quickly as possible, and hopefully members will not be out for the 14 days. A lot of paperwork and red tape and hoops need to be jumped through to bring members out on strike, so I hope that 14 days has been asked for with the thought that it will not be needed to prolong the action for this long.

SoupyNorman Thu 01-Feb-18 17:59:27

Closet what’s the point of rejigging your syllabi? That’s basically avoiding any disruption and effectively just giving your students a few weeks off. UCU have asked us not to do that.

icetip Thu 01-Feb-18 19:18:25

Perhaps if UCU had done their job properly on the USS joint negotiating committee you wouldn't be in this position. They failed to engage properly with what is supposed to be a collective process, they (as usual) called for strike action before the process was complete, they called a series of local strikes when they know that the USS issues can't be solved at a local level, then they ask their members to give up 14 days pay when they've traditionally struggled to get members out in numbers even on one or two days.
There's questions to be asked for sure about the management of the USS fund, but UCU are part of the problem not a solution.

SoupyNorman Thu 01-Feb-18 19:22:02

Gosh icetip you really don’t like the union do you? Are you a member?

SoupyNorman Thu 01-Feb-18 19:22:27

In what way do you think they’ve failed to engage?

icetip Thu 01-Feb-18 19:27:11

No, how'd you guess? But you're not quite right. I've been a union member and worked with several excellent local reps. My problem is with UCU head office. Their strategies are uniformly awful, they use their membership in a deplorable manner (what there is of it, they've struggled to recruit for years), they simply don't do an effective job.

icetip Thu 01-Feb-18 19:29:32

They have equal membership of the JNC. There were 21 meetings since March last year. They tabled a proposal at the very last one. They knew the proposal had no prospect of being accepted. Then they complain when the casting vote goes against them. And they complain about the chair, who they originally lauded when he was appointed.
They're not very good.

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