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Industrial action by University and College Union members from 25 May

17 May 2016

The University has been formally notified that one of the campus trades unions (UCU) intends to commence industrial action in relation to a trade dispute over the 2016 pay claim with a two-day strike and continuous action short of a strike (see * below for details)

Strike action

The UCU has given notice for industrial action in the form of a two-day strike on the following days:

  • Wednesday, 25 May 2016
  • Thursday, 26 May 2016

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.

In seeking to manage this potentially difficult situation in a spirit of collegiality, the University will respect the integrity and professionalism of all our staff by deeming a member of staff to be engaged in industrial action only by asking them and trusting them to inform their line manager that they have taken such action.  If line managers are themselves taking industrial action then they should inform their senior manager at the earliest opportunity.

The University will expect all members of staff who do not indicate to their line manager that they have taken industrial action to discharge all their normal responsibilities as employees.

In the event that lectures, seminars or exams need to be cancelled, then every effort should be made by the School to provide early communication to affected students including details of how the impact of any cancellation will be mitigated, for example, by seeking to reorganise and reschedule cancelled activities.

The University is entitled to withhold pay for staff who take strike action.  A deduction of pay will be made for each day lost due to strike action, with the amount equating to 1/260th of annual salary.

Managers and staff will be informed when the deductions will be made. Please note that although the pay to be withheld for participation in the strike action 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.

It is possible that there may be some picket lines on each of the strike days. Staff can be reassured that the purpose of any picket line is to pass on information in a peaceful manner about the reason for the strike action. We expect any pickets to behave in a respectful way to their colleagues who are attending work. Refusal or failure to cross a picket line is not an acceptable reason for absence from duty and all staff who fail to report for work will have their pay deducted on the above basis accordingly.

Impact of industrial action on 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 (ie 100% of salary) during each period of strike action where 100% of salary is withheld. It is important to note that this option is only available under the USS scheme rules if member contributions are also maintained at 100% of the member’s salary.

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 strike action to this effect, USS membership for the period of industrial action when 100% of pay is being withheld is affected as follows: Employer/Employee USS contributions will not be made in respect of the salary withheld; pension benefits will not accrue during each day of strike action and death in service and ill health protection is not provided.

Where a member of staff takes industrial action and does not wish to maintain membership of USS for the period of the action, the University will pay a special contribution to USS to maintain death in service cover and ill health protection.

If you wish to maintain your USS membership and pay your full employee contributions as normal for each day of strike action we ask you to complete the pro-forma (UCU16) in advance of each strike day/s. This form should be returned to Line Managers/Heads of School as soon as possible.

*Action short of a strike

The UCU has also given notice for industrial action in the form of Action Short of a Strike (ASOS). The UCU have confirmed that:

“The ASOS will be continuous and will also start from 25 May, in the form of both:

  • working to contract; and
  • not working in excess of the maximum number of hours stipulated in the affected employee’s contract of employment, or, where no maximum number of hours is stipulated, 37 hours per week (or such lesser number of hours as the case may be).”

Contracts of employment for Academic, Academic-related, Research and Teaching staff at the University of Manchester stipulate that staff are “required to undertake such hours as necessary for the proper discharge of their duties”. Provided that the ASOS as described above does not impact upon the “proper discharge of their duties” then this should not result in partial performance of duties and no deductions of pay will be made for ASOS on the above basis. However, this is without prejudice to the University’s right to withhold full pay in the future for partial performance, should it be determined that there is an impact upon the proper discharge of duties and/or the basis of any ASOS is changed, then the University reserves the right to review the basis for making any deductions in respect of ASOS and will write to all staff to confirm the basis for any future calculations should these be changed.

If you have any queries about this, then please refer to AskHR.

Further updates on industrial action will be issued as soon as information is available. If you have any questions concerning this, please do not hesitate to contact your HR Partner, Head of HR or myself.


Karen Heaton
Director of Human Resources