University of Leeds Strikes - 2020

When will the strikes take place?


The strikes are spread over the following days:


  • Week 1: Thursday 20 and Friday 21 February 
  • Week 2: Monday 24, Tuesday 25 and Wednesday 26 February
  • Week 3: Monday 2, Tuesday 3, Wednesday 4 and Thursday 5 March
  • Week 4: Monday 9, Tuesday 10, Wednesday 11 and Thursday 12 and Friday 13 March


Why are the strikes happening?


In November 2019, the Trade Union representing some academic and professional & managerial staff at Leeds, the University and College Union (UCU), balloted on taking strike action or ‘action short of a strike’.

The ballot approved both taking strike action and ‘action short of a strike’. There were 8 days of action in December 2019 and now there will be 14 days of further action starting 20 February. 

The UCU and Universities (this is a national issue not just a local one) disagree over staff pay, equality, workload, casualisation and pension scheme.

Both sides have set out their view of the dispute:


UCU Strike Information Page


University of Leeds Strike Information Page



Frequently Asked Questions - General overview of the strikes

To help students understand the strikes, we have created FAQs about the dispute:

A strike, or industrial action, happens when trade union members are in a dispute with their employers that can’t be resolved through negotiations. This may involve some workers refusing to work (going on strike) or stopping some aspects of their work (action short of a strike) for a period of time.

A trade union is an organisation with members who are usually workers or employees. It looks after their interests at work by doing things like:

  • negotiating agreements with employers on pay and conditions
  • discussing big changes like large scale redundancy
  • discussing members’ concerns with employers
  • going with members to disciplinary and grievance meetings

The University and College Union (UCU) represents over 120,000 'academic and professional & managerial staff'. This means academics, lecturers, trainers, instructors, researchers, managers, administrators, computer staff, librarians and postgraduates in universities, colleges, prisons, adult education and training organisations across the UK. They are the Trade Union who have called their members on strike.

Their members included some academic, library and other staff at the University of Leeds. There are around 5500 academic and professional & managerial staff at the University and of them around 1800 are UCU members.

An employer body is an organisation that brings together a group of similar employers to represent and support them.

A picket line is a boundary established by workers on strike, especially at the entrance to the place of work, which others are asked not to cross. It is also a form of protest designed to draw attention to their cause.

Pickets must not prevent people from going to work/study or doing their usual work/study if they want to do so.

The UCU Union and Universities (this is a national issue not a local one)  disagree over staff pay, pensions and working conditions.

Both sides have set out their view of the dispute:

UCU and Universities have a different perspective on this which can be read on the pages linked in the previous answer.

However, your LUU Student Officers are working with both sides to encourage them to mitigate the impact on students of the strikes and come to a resolution as soon as possible. 


Frequently Asked Questions - Specific information for University of Leeds students

We have also created a dedicated section on our Knowledge Base about the UCU strikes, which gives specific information about how the strikes affect University of Leeds students, including answering questions about attendance record, who to contact about changes to timetables and what counts as mitigating circumstances.

We will also be updating that with further FAQs responding to student questions we're receive during the strikes.



What is your Student Executive doing? 


"We have spent time speaking and reaching out to students all across campus and it has been interesting to hear the broad spectrum of views. Since the last round of strikes in December we have spoken to UCU to underline the impact of the strikes and spoken to the University to underline the impact of casual contracts on PGRs."


"During this strike action, we thought it would be helpful to set out what we are doing to make sure students’ voices are heard. We will keep updating the list below that sets out what we are doing and who we are meeting."


Please read our letter to all students



Student Executive, 2019/20


What has been done so far?

 Your Student Executive have been busy meeting with the UCU, University of Leeds representatives and students:  

  • On Wednesday 11 March, your Exec attended University Senate where there was a discussion on mitigating the impact of industrial action on student outcomes. 
  • On Wednesday 11 March, Abiha, your Education Officer had a call with Professor Tom Ward, the deputy vice-chancellor, to get an update on strike action.
  • On Tuesday 10 March, Abiha, your Education Officer briefed school reps on a strike survey to send around to gather data on strike impact.  
  • On Tuesday 3 March, your Exec had a student forum meeting with Sir Alan Langland, (vice-chancellor), Roger Gair, (university secretary), Professor Tom Ward, (deputy vice-chancellor) and Francesca Fowler (director of human resources) and discussed strikes and the continuing support for students. 
  • On Monday 2 March, Abiha, your Education Officer once again met with Professor Tom Ward, the deputy vice-chancellor, to further discuss strike planning and the impact on students.
  • On Friday 28 Feb your Exec decided to sign this national letter addressed to UUK, UCEA and Michelle Donelan MP to encourage them to do what they can to end the disruption to students caused by strike action. 
  • On Monday 24 February, Abiha, your Education Officer had a call with Professor Tom Ward, the deputy vice-chancellor, to get an update on strike action and the impact on students.
  • On Thursday 20 February, the Exec visited the UCU picket line outside Parkinson building, speaking to UCU leaders including the local President of UCU.
  • On Thursday 20 February,  Abiha, your Education Officer met Professor Tom Ward, the deputy vice-chancellor to discuss strike planning including working with schools to minimise impacts on key concerns like dissertations. An important update is that no information about refunds will be available until after the strike has ended.
  • On Friday 14 February, your Exec held an open drop-in session with students, where they found out what students wanted from LUU during the strikes.
  • On Friday 14 February, Abiha, your Education Officer met with School Reps to listen to their views. Our Academic Representation Team was also there to ensure they and everyone in their School felt supported.
  • On Thursday 13 February, your four student Trustees were consulted.
  • On Wednesday 12 February, Lydia, Activities Officer met with the LUU Activities Exec to listen to their views.
  • On Wednesday 12 February your Exec met with Professor Tom Ward, Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Student Education at the University of Leeds to seek assurance over the level of communication with students over the impact of strikes. They raised the issue of compensation for students and sought to understand the action the University had taken to respond to PGR and other staff concerns. 
  • On Tuesday 11 February your Exec and LUU’s Senior Leadership Team met to discuss how LUU can support students during the strikes.   
  • On Monday 10 February there was a meeting with UCU where the background to the strikes was discussed and your Exec ensured student voices were not left out of the conversation.