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Industrial Action by University and College Union (UCU) Members

13 Oct 2017

To University and College Union (UCU) Members

The University has been formally notified that one of the campus trades unions (UCU) intends to commence industrial action in relation to “a dispute over proposed redundancy dismissals amongst academic and academic related staff expected to take place by 30th September 2018” with a two-day strike and continuous Action Short of a Strike (ASOS). 

More specifically the UCU has confirmed that it intends to take the following action:

Strike Action

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

• Monday 23 October 2017

• Tuesday 24 October 2017

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. 

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. 

Working to contract

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

“The industrial action is also intended to be continuous in the form of action short of a strike and the intended date for the affected employees to take part in the action is from 25th October 2017 until the dispute is settled or up to 3 April 2018. The action short of strike is that our members will work to their contracts in the form of working no longer than their contractual working hours and not undertaking any voluntary activities.”

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. 

Deductions from pay

A deduction of pay will be made for all employees who take any strike action. The University is entitled to withhold pay for all staff who take strike action and it has been decided to deduct pay at 1/365th of annual salary for each day of industrial action taken. All staff who declare themselves as being on strike on each of the days of strike will have their pay deducted as follows:

• end of month payroll – November 2017 pay

• mid-month payroll – December 2017 pay

Managers and staff will be informed when the deductions will be made for any other specific strike days as they occur.

Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) rules 

The USS rules provide for the situation where a member is absent from work due to a lawful trade dispute with their employer. In these circumstances, where pay is withheld in respect of the period of action, scheme membership can continue if contributions are maintained on full pay, ignoring any pay withheld. 

On this occasion, the University has agreed to maintain its contributions in full and your own contributions will be deducted in full so there is no break in your membership or loss of life cover or incapacity benefits. No action is needed by you for the continuation of membership with full contributions.

If you do not wish to continue contributions in full, 

• employer/employee USS contributions will not be made in respect of the salary withheld and; 

• pension benefits will not accrue and death in service and ill health protection is not provided for each day of strike action.

If you do not 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 (UCU17). This form should be returned to line managers/Heads of School as soon as possible after each day of strike. 

Death in Service Cover and Ill Health Protection 

If you do not wish to maintain your USS membership in full for the period of strike action, the University will on this occasion maintain death in service cover and ill health protection in such circumstances.

Please note that this dispute is by the UCU as the other campus trade unions are not involved and so only UCU members are legally covered by the strike action. 

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