Industrial Action

Industrial Action

Members of the University and College Union (UCU) at 150 UK universities, including the University of Aberdeen, voted in favour of industrial action following two separate ballots on pay and pensions in October 2022.

UCU has announced three days of strike action: Thursday 24, Friday 25 and Wednesday 30 November. The industrial action will also include action short of a strike, intended to be continuous, beginning on Wednesday 23 November.

Notification of participation in strike action

Please use the pro forma below to provide notification that you have participated in strike action on any of the strike days. Please ensure that you return the form to your Head of School/Section and copy to hr@abdn.ac.uk before the date shown on the form.

Industrial Actions FAQs for Staff - November 2022

What will happen if I decide to strike on any of the strike days?

The University will withhold a day's pay from your salary for the day that you are involved in strike action. The level withheld will be calculated at the rate of 1/365th of annual salary per day. You are required to notify the University of your participation in strike action in order that appropriate deductions may be made from your salary.

How do I notify the University if I participated or plan to participate in strike action?

If you have participated in strike action, please complete the pro-forma. This can also be used to notify of your intention to participate in strike action should you wish to.

Completed forms need to be returned to your Head of School/Section and copied to hr@abdn.ac.uk within the timescales indicated on the form to ensure appropriate and accurate deductions from your salary.

I already have prior arrangements for the day(s) of the strike that will result in me being away from the University. What will happen?

All agreed absences will be honoured. You will not be regarded as being on strike and there will be no effect on your salary if you have the prior approval of your Head of School / Section to be away from the University on any of the strike days. This also applies to anyone who has organised pre-authorised annual leave, home-working or any other absence due to official University business.

Whilst I am not participating in strike action, I am not able to attend work due to school closure on a day where there is strike action at the University. What should I do?

We are aware that staff may be impacted by closure of schools as a result of strike action across Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire.  If this impacts on you, please discuss with your Head of School/Section. Flexibility will be provided for staff where they are not able to attend work and this may include working from home where possible, or by using the Special Leave provisions. It is important that your Head of School/Section is aware of the reason if you are absent from work to ensure this is recorded appropriately. 

I work a 9-day fortnight pattern and I am participating in strike action, will I still be entitled to my day off?

Under the 9-day fortnight scheme, if you were absent from work and were not able to accrue enough hours, you are not entitled to a day off.  The pay deductions made for participating in strike are based on 1/365th of your annual salary per day, which only covers your basic contractual hours (i.e. 7.5 hours a day) as such, it does not cover sufficient number of hours for you to claim a day off. The cycle will reset the following week / first week of no industrial action.

I cannot attend work during strike day(s) due to adverse weather. What will happen?

If you indicated that you were going to participate in strike action on a day of adverse weather, or intended to do so, then your absence will count as a strike day and you should complete the pro-forma on this basis.

If you indicated that you would have been at work, or intended to be, but were not able to attend due to adverse weather, then your absence will be considered in line with the Severe Weather Policy.

Will my pension be affected if I take part in the industrial action?

It has been agreed on this occasion that the University will continue to pay employer contributions to participating scheme members.  Similarly, employee pension contributions will be deducted as normal irrespective of any reduction in salary as a consequence of participation in industrial action. This will ensure continuity of pension scheme membership and life assurance benefits.

What happens if I am ill on any of the strike days?

If you are ill on any of the strike days you will be entitled to the sickness benefits available to you. If you are absent due to sickness on the day(s) of industrial action you must follow the normal absence reporting procedure. You will be asked to provide a medical certificate from your doctor confirming the nature of your illness on this day.

Can I take annual leave on any of the strike days?

Annual leave that has the prior approval of your line manager will be accepted. If you do not report for work and prior approval has not been given for your absence you will be regarded as being on strike and appropriate pay will be withheld.

I am not participating in industrial action. What should I do on the day of the strike?

You should report to work as usual. If you are absent from the office due to pre-authorised Annual Leave or sickness, you must ensure that this is reported through to your line manager / Head of School.

Can I be asked to cover the work of those taking industrial action?

If your line manager asks that you undertake such work, as long as it is within the bounds of your contract, normal work and job description, you are obliged to do so.

I am participating in industrial action. Can I be asked to reschedule the classes that were missed due to my absence?

The University has the right to determine what tasks are prioritised during working hours and to request that you reschedule classes where appropriate in the interest of students.  Should you refuse to reschedule this will be regarded as partial performance/not working to contract and your pay will be deducted as per the arrangements for action short of strike action.

Will there be picket lines around the University on the day(s) of the strike?

Yes, we anticipate that there will be picket lines at the main entrances to our campuses.

In general the number of pickets should not exceed six employees (plus a full-time union official).  The only purpose of the picket is to peacefully obtain or communicate information or to peacefully persuade a person not to work.

What should I do if I am confronted by staff on picket lines?

Picketing is covered by a Code of Practice which recommends that usually there should be no more than 6 people outside an entrance to, or exit from, a workplace.

Pickets are required to conduct themselves in a peaceful and non-threatening manner. Some staff on picket duty may seek to persuade you not to work but they have no right to impede your access to University premises. If you wish to work on the day of the strike you should walk or drive carefully past the picket line and report for work as normal.

What should I expect from the picket lines?

You should expect the picket lines to be professionally organised and the behaviour of the pickets to be courteous. The pickets will conduct themselves in accordance with the Code of Practice. However if any incident does occur that causes any concern you should report the circumstance immediately to your Head of School/Section, to the Director of People, Human Resources (on ext. 3732) or to the Head of HR (on ext. 3750).

If I join the picket line at lunchtime am I on strike?

Yes. If you participate in any action you will be regarded as being on strike and a day's pay will be withheld.

My Head of School/Section doesn't always know my whereabouts as I regularly work from home. He/she may report me as being absent on strike when I am not. How can I be sure that you will not withhold pay from me?

It is important that you make sure your Head of School/Head of Section is informed of your working arrangements on any of the strike days. In these circumstances you will not have any payments withheld from your salary. In addition all staff who participate in the strike action will receive a letter advising them that monies will be withheld from their salary payment at the end of the month.

Will I be informed if a reduction is going to be made from my salary?

Yes, you will be sent a letter advising you that the University will withhold a day's pay from your salary for the day that you are involved in strike action. The level withheld will be calculated at the rate of 1/365th of annual salary per day. If you work part-time, a deduction will be made equivalent to contractual hours that should have been worked on each day on which strike action takes place.

I am due to retire this year. However, I am considering taking part in the current industrial action in support of the dispute. Will my pension be affected?

No, it has been agreed on this occasion that the University will continue to pay employer contributions to participating scheme members.  Similarly, employee pension contributions will be deducted as normal irrespective of any reduction in salary as a consequence of participation in industrial action. This will ensure continuity of pension scheme membership and life assurance benefits.

I am working on a visa - does this affect my right to strike?

Staff employed on a visa should be aware that the University, as your sponsor, is required to report unauthorised absence (such as strike action) if it continues for more than 10 consecutive days. Please contact your HR team for further information on this.

Industrial Action Messages

Notice of strike action - staff message (9 November 2022)

Dear colleagues,

As you may already be aware, members of the University and College Union (UCU) at 150 UK universities, including the University of Aberdeen, voted last month in favour of industrial action following two separate ballots on pay and pensions.

UCU has now announced three days of strike action – Thursday 24, Friday 25 and Wednesday 30 November.   

The industrial action will also include action short of a strike, intended to be continuous, beginning on Wednesday 23 November.  

These are national negotiations between UCU and the Universities & Colleges Employers Association (UCEA) in relation to pay, and Universities UK (UUK) in relation to the USS pension scheme, and we hope that the situation can be resolved, and action averted. We will liaise closely with UCU locally throughout the dispute.

In the meantime, planning is underway to ensure disruption can be kept to a minimum for students and staff.

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

Also, for your information - this message will shortly be issued to students.

Best wishes,

Karl 

Karl Leydecker
Senior Vice-Principal

Notice of industrial action - student message (9 November 2022)

Dear student,

You may already be aware that members of the University and College Union (UCU) at 150 UK universities, including the University of Aberdeen, voted last month in favour of industrial action over staff pay and pensions.   

UCU has now announced three days of strike action – Thursday 24, Friday 25 and Wednesday 30 November. 

This is a national dispute, and we hope that the situation can be resolved swiftly. We will liaise closely with UCU locally throughout the dispute. Not all staff are members of the UCU which means that the extent of action will vary across the University. Your School will be in touch in due course with further information. 

While staff have the right to strike, we are doing all we can to minimise disruption to your teaching, studies and student experience. 

I will keep you updated on developments and FAQs can be found here. In the meantime, any questions or concerns can be directed to academicservices@abdn.ac.uk 

Best wishes,

Ruth 

Professor Ruth Taylor 
Vice-Principal (Education)