Update on the industrial dispute

Update on the industrial dispute

Message from Senior Vice Principal Karl Leydecker on the industrial dispute involving UCU.

Dear Colleagues,

This is to update you about the industrial dispute involving UCU.


Marking and Assessment Boycott

Following an e-ballot of their members, we received notification on 6 September that UCU are no longer calling on them to participate in a marking and assessment boycott.

Staff can now be asked to complete marking and assessment activities, including any outstanding marking not completed due to the boycott. Schools are contacting staff about this and arranging for marking to be completed as soon as practicable, whilst being mindful of workloads and re-prioritising or reducing other activities on a temporary basis to facilitate completion of it.

Further ballot of UCU Members

The mandate for industrial action expires on 30 September and UCU has now provided notification of a further ballot of their members for strike action and action short of strike action which will close on 4 November 2023. Any industrial action as a result of a new mandate would be able to be called from two weeks after that date.

At the same time, UCU has signalled a willingness to resume negotiations on the pay-related items terms of reference and to start the process of an independently facilitated review of the sector’s finances. This is an important development that has the potential to create a shared understanding of the parameters of affordability of future pay awards, and thereby pave the way towards better industrial relations in our sector. The University welcomes negotiations nationally on these issues.

We will also continue to work together with AUCU locally on the pay related matters.  

Notification of Strike Action – September

We have received notification from UCU, calling on members nationally to take strike action, relating to the pay dispute, on the following dates – 25, 26, 27, 28 and 29 September 2023. 

In addition, we have received notification from UCU of local strike action on the following dates - 18, 19, 20, 21, 25, 26, 27 and 28 September 2023.  This relates to the ongoing national dispute on pay and, specifically, a matter arising from it (the pay withholding that the University applied to those participating in marking and assessment boycott) with other universities, who followed the same or a different approach, also receiving notification of local strike action. It is indicated from UCU that the local strike is because the level of deductions applied by Aberdeen are out of line with the rest of the sector. We do not agree that this is the case.

The University acknowledges that many staff will choose not to participate in the national or the local strike action. Whilst we recognise the right of trade union members to take industrial action, we remain concerned that further strike action will have a damaging impact on our students, especially at the start of term.

The University will remain open for business as normal during the days of strike action.

In preparation and to minimise the impact on our student experience, I have asked Heads of School / Section to advise of any anticipated operational difficulties. Whilst not obliged to, it would be helpful if you could let your Head of School/Section know in advance if you do intend to participate in the strike action. 

Otherwise, if you participate in the strike action you are asked to notify your Head of School/Section as soon possible after you do so. These forms are for providing notification of participation in strike action.  Please note the deadlines for confirming participation in strike action. 

For participation on the strike days falling on 18, 19, 20, 21 September – please return the form by 22 September 2023 at the latest. Pay deductions for participation on any of these days will be applied in the October payroll. 

For participation on the strike days falling on 25, 26, 27, 28 and 29 September – please return the form by 2 October 2023 at the latest. Pay deductions for participation on any of these days will be applied in the October payroll.

Taking part in strike action is in breach of the contract of employment and a day’s pay will be withheld from salary for the day(s) affected. The level withheld will be calculated at 1/365th of annual salary per day/ 7/365ths per week.

It has been agreed that the University will continue to pay employer contributions to participating USS scheme members, and that employee pension contributions will be deducted as normal, regardless of any reduction in salary due to participation in strike action. This will ensure continuity of pension scheme membership and benefits.

If you are absent due to sickness on the day(s) of strike action, you must follow the normal absence reporting procedure. Requests for annual leave should be submitted in the normal manner.  

There may be a number of peaceful picket lines across campus on each day of strike action.  

Planning is underway to ensure disruption can be kept to a minimum for students and staff. A message that will be issued to students shortly can be found here.

I will keep you updated on developments and staff FAQs can be found here.

Best wishes,



Karl Leydecker
Senior Vice Principal