Skip to navigation | Skip to main content | Skip to footer
Search the University of Manchester siteSearch Menu StaffNet
Search type

For the attention of University and College Union (UCU) members

09 Jan 2015

Industrial Action Short of a Strike by University and College Union (UCU) Members

Further to previous communications, you will be aware that in November, the UCU had confirmed the suspension of all industrial action called by them in relation to the dispute for the period from 20 November until after 15 January 2015.

This particular action was called by UCU in response to the national employers’ proposals for changes to the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS). The suspension had been agreed between UCU and UUK in order to allow a period of intense negotiation with the aim of seeking an agreement on reforms to the USS and for both parties to explore opportunities for an agreed solution in the negotiations. 

Action Short of a Strike – 16 January 2015 onwards

The University has now been formally notified by the UCU that, subject to the outcome of the joint meeting on 15 January, 2015, it will lift the suspension and take continuous industrial action short of a strike in the form of an assessment and marking boycott re-commencing on 16 January 2015.

Whilst recognising the rights of individual members of staff to take industrial action, it is the University’s intention to endeavour to maintain normal operations during industrial action in order to safeguard the interests of our students and also of our staff and other stakeholders.

The University will manage this situation in a spirit of collegiality by respecting the integrity and professionalism of all our staff. We will determine if a member of staff has engaged in industrial action by asking them to complete a pro-forma and by trusting them to inform their Head of School that they have taken such action.  

The University will expect all members of staff to discharge all their normal responsibilities as employees if they do not complete the pro-forma provided and indicate to their Head of School that they are taking industrial action.

Please complete Form A indicating that you will be refusing to carry out duties associated with assessment and marking. You should then return the pro-forma to your Head of School.

Impact of Partial Performance on Pay

Where individual staff decide to take part in UCU’s industrial action in the form of an assessment and marking boycott, the University will not accept the partial performance of the contract of any member of staff.

Where a breach does occur we reserve the right to withhold 100% of pay, at a daily rate of 1/260th of annual salary. However, it has been decided that, in the first instance we will withhold 20% of pay at a daily rate of 1/260th of annual salary from the date on which you begin to take part in the industrial action short of a strike and until the date the UCU confirm such action is discontinued.

The payment of salary for the remaining 80% is discretionary and we reserve the right to increase the percentage withheld to 100%.

Staff will be informed when any deductions will be made. Please note that although the pay to be withheld for participation in the action short of a strike may relate to one or more particular month’s payroll run, it may not be possible to administer adjustments to pay by the payroll cut-off point for that month and therefore the proportion of pay withheld may fall into the subsequent month.

Impact of Industrial Action USS Contributions/Benefits

If you are a member of a pension scheme, UCU can advise you on the implications for your pension cover if you decide to take part in the industrial action.

Industrial action automatically suspends a member of staff’s employment contract, impacting on the accrual of pension and other benefits including death and incapacity cover.

On this occasion the University is willing to maintain USS pension contributions in full (i.e. 100% of salary) during the period of partial performance where 20% of salary is withheld. It is important to note that this option is only available under the scheme rules if member contributions are also maintained at 100% of the member’s salary. The USS rules state that the university’s employer contributions have to be at the same level of the employee’s contributions.

We ask you to complete the necessary pro-forma if you wish to maintain your USS service in this way and pay your full employee contributions as normal.

For a member of staff who does not advise that they wish to maintain their own employee contributions in full (ie at 100%), or does not notify the University in advance of the commencement of their participation in the action to this effect, USS membership for the period of industrial action when 20% of pay is being withheld is affected as follows:

  • Contributions will be deducted from salary, and pension benefits, including life cover, will accrue, at 80% as if the contract was on a part-time basis.
  • Additional death and incapacity cover cannot be bought under USS rules if employees/ers contributions are paid at 80% of salary. 

Return to Full Duties and Continuous Action

If you do choose to take part in the action being called by UCU and, at a later stage, you decide to change your position regarding your involvement in the industrial action and resume working normally; you should notify your Head of School immediately. You will then be asked to complete Form B and your salary would then be reinstated to your normal contractual salary from the date on which you return to normal working, assuming that you confirm that you have decided no longer to participate in the action short of a strike and are prepared to undertake assessment and marking activities in full and as required.

The University will deduct pay for the entire period of action short of a strike if you declare that you have resumed working normally, but later re-commence your participation in the assessment and marking boycott as this will be deemed to amount to continuous action short of a strike.

Previous Action Short of a Strike

I confirm that the University of Manchester has previously agreed that no member of staff who had indicated they were taking action short of a strike by refusing to carry out duties associated with assessment in November will have their pay deducted. This position remains unchanged by any subsequent industrial action

If you have any queries about this then please refer to:

Further updates on industrial action will be issued as soon as information is available.


Karen Heaton
Director of Human Resources