2019-20 Strike resources

Checklist for branches

  • Have you set up a strike committee and contacted students and other unions?
  • Have you considered your arrangements for strike pay and publicised this widely to members?
  • Are you holding meetings (either Departmental or UCU-led) to explain the issues to students?
  • Are you planning a series of teach outs that are coordinated with students?
  • Have you produced a letter aimed at students that explains why we are taking action?
  • Do you have slides that staff can use to explain the action in lectures?
  • Have you produced draft “out of office” messages both before and during the strike?
  • Have you organised picket rotas and picket “captains”?
  • Have you considered how best to connect with proposed “themed” strike days?
  • Have you produced stickers and leaflets to supplement ones from national UCU? 
  • Have you set up a meeting with management in order to request that 1) Any deductions are spread over a period of 4-6 months 2) Any deductions are worked out on the basis of 1/365 of salary 3) Any deductions are put into a student hardship fund 4) Any deductions for casualised staff are minimised/scrapped 5) No reports to UKVI regarding staff on Tiers 2 and 5 are made during the period of strike action

Pay deductions

See Andrew Chitty’s googledoc for up to date pay deductions. Effectively, as of 11 January, most universities chose to deduct pay over one or two months in relation to the strikes in November and December 2019. To the best of our knowledge, only eight institutions agreed to deductions spread over three months. USS Briefs have compiled a dossier of communications from vice-chancellors which contains some of this information. (Please email branchsolidaritynetwork@gmail.com for updates on whether your branch has been able to negotiate staggered deductions).

Goldsmiths UCU has issued some guidance to members in the light of its management’s refusal initially to spread deductions which contains some interesting proposals. Following pressure, management agreed to deduct pay over two months but in April and May 2020, i.e. five months after the action in order to allow members to prepare.

Action short of strike action (ASOS)

Members taking part in strike action over pensions, pay and equalities are also engaged in action short of a strike (ASOS) that started on 25 November and is still continuing. However, many employers are “reserving the right” to deduct for ASOS and branches need to be clear about how best to defend members at risk of deductions from simply working to their contracts. We offer information below about what ASOS consists of and how we should respond to threats from the employers.

What is ASOS?

Has every employer threatened to deduct pay for engaging in ASOS?

No – Sheffield University, for example, have stated that “we will not deduct any pay from staff who participate in this type of action” (see screenshot below). We encourage all branches to apply pressure on those institutions who take a hard line on ASOS – for example through lobbies, petitions, liaising with external examiners and so on- and to call for urgent meetings with HR. 

How to respond to requests to take part in voluntary activities

This is from the 2018 strike but Leicester UCU’s guidance on how to deal with ASOS queries and “how to respond (nicely!) to volunteer” is invaluable.

What’s the legal opinion on deducting pay for taking part in ASOS?

Read this post from legal academics on ‘deductions for action short of a strike’

Detailed information from UCU

UCU information on working to contract

What does ‘action short of a strike’ mean for academic-related and professional services staff?

Stickers & memes

Strike handbooks & guidance for members

Sussex UCU Tumblr site (filled with goodies)

Music for the picket lines

GU Collective’s 30 songs for UCU picket lines on Spotify

Liverpool UCU strike playlist

Birmingham Law strike playlist

We are the University strike playlist (Grace Krause)

UCL -IOE UCU strike playlist

Rosa Campbell’s Strike songs playlist on Spotify 

Leah Chan’s playlist for 2019 UCU strikes on Spotify

10 best union songs of all time (thanks to CBC)

Protest in Harmony (Edinburgh UCU) songsheet

The Little Book of Sussex Strike Songs

Information about local hardship funds

Exeter UCU, Goldsmiths UCU, Leeds UCU, Strathclyde UCU, Liverpool UCU, York UCU, Cambridge UCU, Stirling UCU, Heriot-Watt UCU, Bangor UCU, Open University UCU

Information for students

There are leaflets explaining the strikes to students in Chinese and Arabic– produced by Universities Resist Border Controls.

Cambridge UCU
Brighton UCU

Cambridge 4 page EDITABLE (but please make a copy first)

Cambridge 2 page EDITABLE (but please make a copy first)

Warwick UCU strike FAQs for studentshttp://warwickucu.org.uk/strike-faq-for-warwick-students/

Sheffield Hallam UCU announcement to students

Royal Holloway UCU information for students and others

Strike FAQs for Sussex students

Branch announcements about the action

Out of office messages

Information for non-EU staff

See lots of information here from UCU

How to respond to a manager asking if you plan to take strike action


Sussex UCU

Join the UCU strike (Clare Rowan)

Queens University Belfast video

Strike BU – a message to students (Bournemouth UCU)

Employers’ responses

A comprehensive set of responses from university management has been assembled by USS Briefs and can be accessed here