What is happening?
The lecturers’ trade union University & College Union (UCU) has called a strike because of a failure to reach an agreement with the employers’ side Universities UK (UUK) over changes to the USS pension scheme. The current proposals have been designed to ‘de-risk’ the pension scheme but this is contested. UCU say that the proposals would mean a loss of around £10,000 a year in retirement for their members while the University contends that the changes make the pension scheme ‘sustainable and affordable’. UCU have conducted a national ballot and their members have voted for industrial strike action. Leeds University is one of around 61 institutions affected by the proposed strike action on the following dates:
Week One - Thursday 22nd and Friday 23rd of February (2 days)
Week Two - Monday 26th to Wednesday 28th of February (3 days)
Week Three - Monday 5th to Thursday 8th of March (4 days)
Week Four - Monday 12th to Friday 16th of March (5 days)
How will the proposed industrial action affect me?
We expect that the strikes will mean cancelled teaching sessions on the dates above so we advise that you ask any teaching staff that you are scheduled to have contact with during these dates for clarity on whether they are taking industrial action or not. They are not obliged to say in advance if they intend to do so, but they may give you a heads up. Other services such as IT and Libraries may also be impacted so look out for information from services you use regularly. For PGR students, there will be specific information for you coming out from LUU soon. There may be picket lines set up around entrances to campus - feel free to stop and have a chat to show you support them or walk on by.
What can I do about it?
LUU and the Student Exec are sensitive to how different students will react to the proposed industrial action and we aim to ensure that you have access to the information you need and feel enabled to engage fully with the discussion:
- Any student with worries or specific concerns can seek help from LUU Help & Support email@example.com or drop by the LUU Foyer.
- Get in contact with your School and Course Reps. This can be raised at your Staff-Student Forum where you could discuss how best as a School you can inform students of the effects of the industrial action and manage potential disruption.
- Students who wish to support the strike action or raise concerns of the impact the strike action is having on their studies can get in touch with their School or email the Vice Chancellor of the University (firstname.lastname@example.org).
- Students can write to their MP either in Leeds or at home, asking them to sign Early Day Motion 619 which ‘calls on the Government to review the current situation and urge Universities UK to work with University and College Union to find a better solution which ensures that USS remains competitive’.
- Join the Facebook group set up by students organising support for UCU if you want to get involved.
What are others doing about it?
- UCU is encouraging its members to inform their students in lectures and seminars if and when they are going to strike, ask your tutor what they are doing to get the most up to date information from them on how your studies might be affected.
- LUU is going to work with UCU to give them stalls in the Union and signpost you to other UCU events such as ‘Teach Outs’ which aim to engage with students, look out for them over the coming period.
- LUU is hosting a Q&A session for students with the Vice Chancellor in the Michael Sadler SR (LG.19) on Monday 12th of February at 5:15pm. Come along to this free event to ask him about the situation or raise your concerns.
- UCU will be holding an open meeting for all Postgraduate students (both members and non-members) on Monday 12 February, 3pm - 4pm, Baines Wing seminar room G.37 with Jonathan White from UCU head office to provide information.
- The Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Student Education, Tom Ward, has sent an email to students encouraging them ‘regularly to check the University’s student website which they will update with general information and further guidance as and when it becomes available.’
What is the Exec's stance on it?
Your Student Executive 2018 said:
"As your elected officers, we are committed to representing the best interests of students at Leeds University, we have met separately with Leeds University Management and University & College Union (UCU) to discuss the impact of the proposed action. We understand the reasons that have lead UCU to industrial action and believe that students’ best interests will be met if the strikes are averted. Therefore, we call on both sides to return to negotiations through their national bodies. We recognise that Leeds students are going to have a wide range of responses to this action. LUU is committed to supporting all its members and ensuring that students have all the right information and are aware of how they can express themselves on this issue. We will continue to engage with both the UCU and the University locally to ensure that students are kept informed as this situation develops."