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Strike Action, and Action Short of a Strike – some members’ tips

THIS PAGE MAY BE UPDATED WITH FURTHER SUGGESTIONS.

Before the strike

Generally all staff should:

  • Not overwork
  • Separate your personal and professional email
  • Move personal blogs and websites to private hosting: there are free options

Try to check facts and figures before sharing on social media, even if they “sound  right”.

Remember that you should not tell your manager in advance that you will be striking, even if they ask. After your return to work, you must answer truthfully when asked.

Supporting industrial action

  • Not all staff here are in UCU. Some staff support industrial action but feel unable to take part. We will always ask for your full support for strike action or action short of a strike (ASOS). There are many ways you can support the action.
  • Don’t do work to mitigate the impact of the strike or ASOS (Action short of a strike)
  • Learn more about what’s going on
  • Tell people on strike that you support them. Coffee & cake are always appreciated by pickets
  • Donate to the hardship fund
    • UCU Southampton 71 Hardship Fund
    • Account number: 20391537
    • Sort code: 60-83-01
  • If you feel able, try to make impacts of the strike as visible as possible.
  • If you are unwell, take sick leave. You can self-certify for 5 working days.
  • If you can, save some money so that you are ready to take part in future action
  • If you are anxious about your manager’s response to striking or participating in ASOS come and say hi to your union reps who can give you advice and support.
  • Best of all, join the union. Join the action.


    Being in a union

  • The union is a democratic organisation. You can chat and campaign via social media but please note that decisions are made following the formal rules of the branch and national organisation. Please learn and respect this process.
  • We won’t always agree, but “solidarity” means we listen to each other and work together as a union, respecting each other even when we disagree.
  • The union is strongest when we work together in a coordinated way.
  • The union is all of us. Ask how you can get more involved. We always need representatives and caseworkers, more organisers to get involved in strike-related events, and more people to stand for Executive positions. Approach a rep or exec member to find out more or volunteer, or email ucu@soton.ac.uk

    Strike Days

    The goal of strike days is to place pressure on the decision makers by withholding your labour.  On strike days please:

  • Do not go to your office or place of work (unless you go to a picket line!)
  • Do not reply to work emails.
  • Do not attend academic and university events.
  • Do not teach off-campus (union-run teach outs are fine).
  • If you are the health & safety contact for a piece of equipment or university facility please notify your line manager if you will not be available.
  • If you experience financial hardship ask the branch about strike pay.
  • If you choose to set up an email “vacation” message for strike days, use this as an opportunity to tell people about why you are striking. If you have a strike vacation message set-up it’s even more important not to reply to work emails.  An example message may be: “UCU members will be taking strike action and working to contract to defend USS pensions and pay and working conditions, for periods of time from 25 November to 4 December 2019.  There may be delays to my response to your email. If you would like to know more about why UCU are taking action go to: https://www.ucu.org.uk/he-action-faqs
  • Join a picket line. There will be pickets every day from 8 – 11am at WSA, Avenue and Highfield and SGH (8.30 – 10.30), and at 1 GS on Friday 29/11. If you are not sure where to go, go to Union House first. Do provide urgent health and welfare critical support to staff and students (ie. things any decent human would do).

    On the picket line

  • Be nice
  • Form a line (either side of the path/access). Clumps of people are easier to walk round and ignore. Collegial chatting is great, but don’t forget that you are there to discourage people from crossing the picket line and entering the building.
  • Discouragement should be polite and verbal only. DO NOT block access or intimidate people.
  • Try different approaches. Learn and share what works.
  • Talk to people. Make eye contact.
  • Know your facts. Have your explanations ready and coherent. UCU centrally will provide information we can share, and your local branch will supplement this.
  • Give each other breaks and don’t expect perfection. Picketing is hard work and letting people have some agency (and breaks) is important.
  • Encourage staff and students to attend the teach-outs and rallies where they can find out more about the action; leaflets will be available.

    When returning to work: Action Short of a Strike

    ASOS is action taken by the union members following a legal ballot. Please work your contracted hours and withdraw all voluntary work (e.g open days, visit days, evening lectures). We care about our work and impact on colleagues and students and so we find ASOS challenging but it sends a message to your employers that we are serious about this dispute.

    We suggest that you:

    • Work only your contracted hours (you can see your contracted hours on myhr.soton.ac.uk under “current appointment”. For a full-time member of staff, this should be 35 hours)
    • Contact AskHR for a copy of your contract if you don’t already have one. You are legally entitled to this but many managers here may discover they can’t find yours.
    • If you have an ERE contract and job description, specific responsibilities will normally have been delegated to you by managers. Do not work beyond these.
    • If your job sits within any job family other than ERE, you should decline to do tasks which are not covered by your contract or job description –  your job responsibilities should be clear and agreed. New tasks should be agreed with you and reasonable. If you’re not sure, get your union rep to take a look.
    • If you cannot fit all your delegated tasks into normal working hours, ask your line manager to formally prioritize your work. This forces management to engage with your workload. (PS, this advice goes for line managers, too – you should engage with YOUR line manager if you have concerns about priorities).
    • When people ask you to do things which are not on your priority list refer them to your line manager. Tell them that you have been instructed to prioritize other work and new requests have to be approved by your line manager.
    • Take your lunch and other breaks and do not work during these. Block out your lunch break and home time in your calendar. Don’t agree to meetings in your lunch break.
    • If you are an external examiner at another institution taking industrial action, your contract is with them, and you should adhere to the demands of your contract during periods of ASOS.
      However, you should not do work on strike days for other institutions that are taking part in the dispute.

      How to find your contracted hours on MYHR.

       

       

    • When doing action short of a strike, don’t stay late to get back on top of your to do list. Be clear if there is work you cannot do because you have been on strike.
    • Do not reschedule lectures/seminars which were missed: it is not your responsibility to ameliorate the impact or reschedule – senior managers need to do this.
    • If you feel able, talk to colleagues about coming out next time: “with your help the next deal will be better”; “we are fighting for all our pensions, pay and conditions.”
    • If striking has caused you financial hardship, we encourage you to claim from the local or national strike fund. You will be able to claim after strike deductions have been made, and will need to supply evidence (normally a pay slip). We particularly encourage post-graduate tutors, staff on temporary or casual contracts, and part-time staff to apply to the hardship fund. Contact ucu@soton.ac.uk for more information.If you have a question that is not answered here, please let us know (ucu@soton.ac.uk) and we will add it to the list.

      Southampton UCU Branch Executive Committee