What is the Campaign about?
*Support The Strike by emailing The Vice-Chancellor of Queen's at firstname.lastname@example.org , please download the relevant template below.
The University and College Union, which many of Queen’s academic staff are a part of, is taking part in a 14 day strike on the following dates:
- Week one - Thursday 20 & Friday 21 February
- Week two - Monday 24, Tuesday 25 & Wednesday 26 February
- Week three - Monday 2, Tuesday 3, Wednesday 4 & Thursday 5 March
- Week four - Monday 9, Tuesday 10, Wednesday 11, Thursday 12 & Friday 13 March
Your Students’ Union supports the strike and is proud to stand in solidarity with our staff members who are affected.
The strike action has come about as a result of failure to reach necessary agreements on pay, working conditions, inequality and pensions. It is intended to call for Universities UK (made up of Vice-Chancellors across the UK) to re-enter negotiations with UCU to find workable solutions on these issues.
Staff don’t want to be striking – they want to teach and will be losing pay. Likewise, the Students’ Union has been and will be supporting students through any disruption they face academically, but it is vital that students and staff stand together to demand real change.
We're encouraging students to Support The Strike:
- Join staff and on the picket line on strike days
- Email your lecturer offering your support – this means a lot to them.
- Email the Vice-Chancellor calling on him to stop the strike by asking UUK to reopen negotiations with UCU. You can use our suggested letter template or you can put into your own words how you feel about the strike.
You can find information about all the activities taking place here: Strike Action Programme
We realise you may have a lot of questions about the proposed strike and any impact on your studies, so we have prepared some answers.
Who is going on strike?
The University and College Union (UCU), which is the trade union representing over 110,000 academics, lecturers, researchers, managers, administrators, computer staff, librarians and postgraduate students across the UK.
- What is the strike about?
The purpose of the strike is to call for Universities UK, the representative organisation for UK Universities, to re-enter negotiations with UCU to find workable solutions on a number of matters:
- Pay: Staff have seen their pay cut in real terms by 20% since 2009
- Workload and Casualisation: 71% of members said their workload had increased, with 64% saying they were concerned with workload with 63% concerned about work related stress. Additionally, we have over 1,300 academics in Queen’s who are employed on either zero-hour contracts or on fix-term contracts.
- Inequality: There has been a lack of movement by UUK to address the gender pay gap and race pay gap. Across the sector, women are paid 15% less than men and Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic staff are 10% more likely to be employed on an insecure contract.
- Pensions: The proposed pension changes would mean staff paying more into their pensions while in work and yet with no guarantee of getting the same out when they retire.
These have a direct impact on the quality of education you receive in the form of less contact time and limited access with your lecturers, as well as less time spent by staff preparing for classes and marking assignments.
This strike is part of the wider struggle against marketisation which has led to rising tuition fees, rising hidden costs of education and cut after cut being made to your education. That’s why it’s so important that students and staff stand together to demand an education system that works for all of us.
- When is it taking place?
The strike will take place over 14 days
Week one - Thursday 20 & Friday 21 February
Week two - Monday 24, Tuesday 25 & Wednesday 26 February
Week three - Monday 2, Tuesday 3, Wednesday 4 & Thursday 5 March
Week four - Monday 9, Tuesday 10, Wednesday 11, Thursday 12 & Friday 13 March
- Is Queen’s Students’ Union supporting the strike?
Yes, your Students’ Union is supportive of the strike, and we are proud to stand in solidarity with members of staff who are affected by the proposed changes.
- How did the Students’ Union come to this position?
We came to this decision following a vote of SU Council (recently elected by you) to support the strike action on 11 November. Therefore, as a Union we are now mandated to stand in solidarity with staff on strike.
Is Queen’s University Belfast supporting the strike?
No, Queen’s University Belfast has taken the position to not support any industrial action.
- What could Queen’s do to end the strike?
The Vice-Chancellor represents Queen’s on Universities UK, and could add to the call to increase employer contributions to the pension scheme and take action to address the issues associated with pay, casualisation and inequality.
- How can I support the strike?
- Join staff and on the picket line on strike days
- Email your lecturer offering ypur support - this means alot to them
- Email the Vice-Chancellor, using our template to ask them to stop the strike by calling on UUK to reopen negotiations with UCU.
- Are staff paid while on strike?
No, staff are not paid while on strike, which highlights further why going on strike is always a last resort.
- How is the SU supporting students during the strike?
The SU has met with the University and received confirmation that, where possible, you will not be assessed on material that you’re not taught. We will continue to advise and represent you throughout and after the strike.
If you do face disruption or want to get more information during or after the strike, please get in touch with Advice SU at email@example.com.
Will my class still go head?
It is difficult to know whether the class will go ahead and this may not be confirmed until the actual date ofe the class.
- I am an Undergraduate / Postgraduate Taught student, what does this mean?
It may affect teaching in schools, such as lectures and classes. The University has said teaching in colleges will not be affected.
- I am a Postgraduate Research student, what does this mean?
Your supervision may be affected by the strike. Please contact your supervisor. If you are employed by the University (e.g. teaching undergraduates), you should contact UCU to get more information about your rights and duties. If you are an enrolled postgraduate student contracted to teach in UK higher education institutions, you are entitled to free membership of UCU. You can join here.
- I am an International student, what does this mean?
The University has issued the following guidance to international students: “Tier 4 visa conditions are not affected by the strike action. The strike action may result in the cancellation of some of the expected contact points we use to check your attendance. If expected contacts such as lectures do not happen due to the strike action, then this is through no fault of your own. We will log this so it doesn’t count against you.” For further clarification, please contact International Student Support on firstname.lastname@example.org
- Should I still meet my deadlines?
Yes, our advice to students is that you should still meet your deadlines if it falls on or outside of a strike day.
Can I get a refund on my tuition fees?
University staff are not paid when they are on strike. The University will make a financial saving on staff pay as a result of strike action.
The Students’ Union will be asking the University to use these savings to reduce the impact of strike action on students and to invest in meaningful student experience projects.
The Students’ Union will advise and support any individual student who wishes to seek a refund from the University for any learning opportunities lost as a result of strike action.
Students who wish to seek a refund for any detriment, dissatisfaction, or disadvantage suffered as a result of the strike action can use the University’s Complaints Procedure to do so.
This is not straightforward as the University:
- Can provide some alternative learning opportunities to you to mitigate teaching time you may have as a result of strike action.
- Does not provide a detailed breakdown on how much of your tuition fees are spent directly on teaching and learning activities or on other central costs in the University.
- Does not believe that it is liable to you, in any manner whatsoever, for any failure of delay, or for the consequences of any failure of delay, due to strike action, lockouts or other industrial action or disputes (whether involving their workforce or any other party).
If you wish to seek redress from the University, please contact Advice SU – our free, independent, confidential and non-judgemental advice - who can advise you on how to proceed.
- Should I come to the campus on strike days?
Yes, you should still come to the campus on strike days. Wherever possible, you should support staff who are on strike by supporting the picket line and joining in the rally. You are welcome to visit and use the Students’ Union during strike days. As part of our commitment to promote learning, UCU will run an ‘Alternative University’ programme during the strike days. There will be free and open lectures, talks and seminars directed at all interested students, staff and members of public. (see the timetable and sign up to the Facebook event).
- Where can I get further updates?
- Contact your school general office
- Ask your personal tutors or lecturers if programmes or lectures will take place as normal or cancelled – just remember they are under no obligation to tell you whether or not they will be striking.