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Colleague on strike- do I cover her work?

(34 Posts)
Fournickate Tue 30-Jan-18 13:42:21

I'm after a bit of advice, please. I don't know much about the rules around UK strikes as I'm from abroad. I don't want to do the wrong thing.

I'm an academic. One of my colleagues teaches workshops on a module I run. She's in the union. I'm not.

The union have announced strike days coming soon. The days of the strike coincide with days she's meant to be teaching for me.

What should I do?

Do I cover her classes? But this means no disruption, which I thought was the whole point of a strike.

Do I not cover her classes? But could I then be in trouble with the university because the students were left without a teacher even though I was technically available to cover?

Don't want to make a faux pas here or break any rules.

Thank you for any advice you may give

I have posted this too in Academics Corner, sorry for the duplication but I really need an answer quite soon.
Thank you

TheSnowFairy Tue 30-Jan-18 19:33:28

Can you arrange something so you are not there that day?

GrockleBocs Tue 30-Jan-18 19:35:43

You can't be forced to cover her work I believe. You're unlikely to get authorised time off on strike days unless it was booked beforehand.

kaitlinktm Tue 30-Jan-18 20:05:05

What would you normally be doing on the days she is on strike? If you are teaching, then who will do your job.

I am a teacher so am not sure if the rules are the same for academics, but we were told not to cover for striking colleagues and that HTs couldn't ask us to do so.

I would imagine she would be annoyed if someone covered her classes - she will be losing pay and presumably she is striking for better pay/conditions for all staff, union and non-union or for better conditions/resources for students.

Ellboo Tue 30-Jan-18 20:08:52

Hello - yes the classes shouldn’t run. The strikes are a last resort and she doesn’t need to confirm in advance that she is striking so shouldn’t be possible to make you cover. It’s a crap situation. Some people can be a bit defensive about it in the workplace if you ask questions but UCU website will have some answers for you.

BroccoliOnTheFloor Tue 30-Jan-18 20:09:12

Can you check, or ask her to check, with the union reps? There will be guidance on this, and they will know the rules.

The currently announced strike is extremely serious, about issues which will affect everyone, and support from non-union members (such as working to contract) will be appreciated.

flowery Tue 30-Jan-18 20:25:27

You should not get in trouble for not covering a striking member of staff. There’s no rule saying you can’t if you want to, but it’s not really the done thing, for the reasons you point out.

BakedBeans47 Tue 30-Jan-18 23:29:12

You don’t have to cover I believe, they can ask you but you don’t have to. In any event even if you aren’t part of the Union you don’t have to cross a picket line (I think!)

NC4now Tue 30-Jan-18 23:31:55

Not sure on the legalities, but I wouldn’t cover for a colleague on strike. I’d feel it undermined the union, and I feel strongly about that. It could be viewed very badly by colleagues too.
I’d always be in the union though.

PlaymobilPirate Tue 30-Jan-18 23:40:37

Don't cover

Are you teaching all day? If so great. If not - get booking meetings in now so you're unavailable

Fournickate Wed 31-Jan-18 16:41:41

Thank you for your replies.

I would be at home that day anyway as I have no classes or meetings those days.

My issue is that technically it is my job to run these classes. It's my module but my colleague does the classes for me as part of her professional development. So is it still legitimate for me to refuse to cover the classes?

I can't find guidance on the website about what non-union staff should do on the strike days (ie about covering staff). It would I think be useful to have guidance from the Union so I can be more secure and clear in my position (ie I am not covering classes as advised by the union).

Sorry about all the questions, this is all new to me

pluginbaby00 Wed 31-Jan-18 16:52:09

I'm a teacher and during a strike of non-teaching staff in our department we were advised under no circumstances to do any of their jobs (preparing essential materials for class) so had to plan around this. Your situation does seem a bit less clear cut so I would defer to advice from your own management/HR.

Fournickate Fri 02-Feb-18 08:10:17

So now I have just come across the idea of not crossing picket lines.

If I go to work, I will need to cross a picket line. Is this a terrible thing?

NC4now Fri 02-Feb-18 09:12:41

Technically you wouldn’t be crossing the picket line, as you aren’t in the union but it’s still not something I’d do. I couldn’t. It would feel too close.

Out of interest, which part of the country are you in? There’s a lot of history with the unions and a lot of strong feelings in some parts of the country.

Bellamuerte Fri 02-Feb-18 09:30:15

Why are you not in the union and supporting your colleagues? Usually someone who works on a strike day is labelled as a "scab" and a traitor. It's worth considering what your colleagues' attitude towards you will be if you cover these classes. Imo you should avoid covering them if possible.

kaitlinktm Fri 02-Feb-18 09:45:45

It's also a good idea to be in a union so they can support and advise you if there is a problem at work. I am really surprised that you are not in one. I only work 0.2 in a school now, but I am still in a union.

Fournickate Fri 02-Feb-18 10:12:49

I work in Bristol

There are a few strike days happening over coming weeks.

So say I don't cover these classes but I do go into work on some of the strike days. Is this really bad? I can't not go in as I have no legal protection because I'm not in the union. But will I be a "scab" then?

I am not in the union because the fees are expensive, in the past they have been too ready to back-down on important issues and I'm not on-board with some of their ideologies.

kaitlinktm Fri 02-Feb-18 17:12:25

As I said, I have always been in a union, but on one occasion two of the then teaching unions were on strike but my union wasn't (I have changed unions since). Although it was not the same situation as you are in, I still felt bad about crossing a picket line - even though my union told me I should go into work. I went in very early on those days and was lucky enough to get to work before the picket line got there. They didn't stay all day so when I went home they had already left. Would this be a possibility for you?

I take your point about not agreeing with the union and the cost of the fees - I pay for mine monthly, would that help? Also, I was thinking more of for your own protection - in case something happened. I don't agree with everything my union say - but broadly I feel it prudent to be in a union nonetheless.

NC4now Fri 02-Feb-18 20:36:43

Your best option is to join the union, pronto. If they are going out on strike, they aren’t backing down.
You’ll likely benefit from whatever they are negotiating, so it’s only fair you pay your subs and support your colleagues.

Allaboutthatcake Fri 02-Feb-18 23:18:24

Interesting view points here. Places I’ve worked have been more mature than to call each other scabs. I’ve had to cross picket lines as you can’t just not turn up to work if you are not part of a union.
Howevrr, I would not be covering her work, I wouldn’t speak to the union, you are not a member do they do not have your best interests at heart. Discuss with your manager.

BakedBeans47 Fri 02-Feb-18 23:30:55

I’ve had to cross picket lines as you can’t just not turn up to work if you are not part of a union.

You can actually

BakedBeans47 Fri 02-Feb-18 23:32:13

OP - you don’t have to cross the picket line whether you are part of the union or not. It’s up to you.

BakedBeans47 Fri 02-Feb-18 23:34:33

SD1978 Fri 02-Feb-18 23:38:25

If the responsibility for the class is yours, and you have allowed someone else to cover it for their personal development- that may be different than covering a class. Ultimately it is your class. I’d talk to your colleague. When she no longer teaches the class because that part of her PD is done- will you be expected to go back to teaching it? If she’s temporarily covering it for her own career development, that could be construed differently than a class she has responsibility for independently.

BishBoshBashBop Fri 02-Feb-18 23:42:21

Why are you not in the union and supporting your colleagues? Usually someone who works on a strike day is labelled as a "scab" and a traitor. It's worth considering what your colleagues' attitude towards you will be if you cover these classes. Imo you should avoid covering them if possible.

Bullying and throwing around words like 'scab' is wrong.

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