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UCU strike 2016: Read the latest message from CCCU UCU branch chair Connie Nolan

Dear colleagues,

The National UCU has called for two strike days this week: Wednesday 25th and Thursday 26th May.

We are also asked to work to contract from 25th May onwards.

This means that you are asked to withdraw your labour on 25th and 26th May, which means that you will not be paid for those two days. You do not have to inform your manager in advance that you are taking industrial action.

Yes, it is technically a breach of contract but the Trade Union laws protect those who engage in a ‘lawful’ strike which this is.

There will be pickets on the gates to the university main campus in North Holmes Road.

If you can join us for picket duty, please assemble at Gate 1 Blue Car Park from 7.30am (or whenever you can get there).

You are also asked to work to contract which means that you should not volunteer to undertake any duties which are outside your normal work.

UCU have FAQs about industrial action on the website.

It is very important that all our students understand why we are taking this industrial action and I addressed the Council of the Christ Church Students Union last Thursday.

They fully support our action and asked me to speak at the Golden Apple Award ceremony so that a wider audience is aware that we are supported by our students in our national industrial action.

There is a template at the bottom of this email you may like to use for emails out to your students. We would encourage you to customise it with specific details. You may also like to use an email signature such as:

“On 25 and 26 May 2016 I will be participating in the UCU strike in support of a fair and equitable pay settlement for all staff in UK universities. I will deal with emails on my return.

If you would like to know more about the UCU and the reasons for the current action, please go to”

Thanks Connie,

Kind regards,


Connie Nolan MBA, FCIPD, FHEA, MCiM

Chair HE Sector SE Region UCU

Branch Chair UCU CCCU

Follow us on twitter @ucucanterbury


Suggested Template:


What action are academic and academic related staff taking?

University and College Union (UCU) members will be taking strike action this week (Weds 25th and Thurs 26th May) and commencing a “work to contract”.

Why are university staff taking action?

Our working conditions are your learning conditions. Poorly paid staff on insecure contracts are not in the best position to educate students in the way we would all desire.

This is not a decision we have taken lightly. Every day we work hard to educate, support, develop and improve the life chances of 2.3 million students. No UCU member wants to harm your education or disrupt your studies.

However, we cannot sit back and watch our pay eroded; gender and sessional staff inequality grow unchallenged and employment become more insecure every year. As tuition fees continue to rise you may rightly wonder where your money is going. The sector has over £1 billion in operating surpluses.

Universities are spending lots of money on buildings and increasing revenues. Vice-Chancellors and other top managers are also doing very comfortably – Vice-Chancellors on average earn more than 6 times what average staff receive. They are not investing in most of their staff and many of those who teach you are on insecure hourly-paid contracts.

Stand with us

We know this action will cause disruption and we are sorry. The truth is that university employers can end this dispute today.

Please help us to get the universities back round the table and end this damaging dispute before it gets any worse.

The Student Union Council here at Christ Church support us and so we ask you to:

  • Email the Vice-chancellor calling on them to press national negotiators to make a better offer.
  • Talk to the Student Union about how you can get involved in supportive activities.
  • Speak to your lecturers and other staff and let them know you support them.

It is the staff and students who make a university.


Higher education strike is ON

UCU negotiators met with the University and College Employer Association (UCEA) this week in the hope of finding a solution to the current dispute among growing anger over news that vice-chancellor pay rose by 6.1% last year.

UCEA made no improvement on the 1.1% pay offer to staff or on measures to address gender inequality and insecure contracts and the strike action will continue on Wednesday and Thursday next week as planned.

Please join picket lines and support the strike action:

Senior HE leaders enjoy 6.1% annual pay rise, says Times research

A comprehensive survey by the Times Higher Education magazine has revealed a latest annual increase in pay and benefits (excluding pensions) of 6.1% for those senior leaders in HE.

One in five universities gave their bosses a rise of 10% or more. The Times Higher Education compares that to an average increase of 1.3% for staff over the same period.

Yet while university leaders have received pay increases many times higher than inflation, the final pay offer to staff of 1.1% is described by the employers as the “very best offer” possible.

This simply cannot stand.

The union’s higher education committee (HEC) has agreed a comprehensive programme of industrial action aimed not just at improving this final offer but also persuading the employers to address the gender pay gap and the growth of casual contracts.  Please give the union your support starting with the two days of strike action on Wednesday 25 and Thursday 26 May.

Finally for today, I have been inundated with messages about the union’s appeal to external examiners to resign their posts and not take up new ones for the duration of the dispute.  Many of you ask what notice you should give. UCU is not asking you to break your contract by giving incorrect notice.

You must always give the requisite notice stipulated in your external examiners’ contract or accompanying handbook. Where no expressed ie. written notice period is given you must give a reasonable period of notice which will depend on the circumstances. If you require more detailed advice please contact Matt Waddup at

You can read about the Times Higher Education VC pay survey here.

You can read UCU’s response here.

You can read about our programme of industrial action here.

Message from UCU General Secretary Sally Hunt about strike action

Dear colleague,

I am writing to set out in further detail the union’s plan of action for the campaign for fair pay in higher education.

As you will know 65% of members voted for strike action and 77% of members voted for action short of a strike. It is clear that without disruptive industrial action, sustained for as long as it takes, there will be little movement from the employers on either the final pay offer of 1.1% or on the gender pay gap and the issue of casual contracts.

First, the union will be asking you to take two days of strike action on 25 and 26 May. Many of you have contacted me to say you support UCU but to ask if the union provides exemptions from strike action for staff who were due to attend exam boards, vivas, or other student assessment on those two days. With regret the answer is no. It is very important that all members support the action and that we show we are prepared to fight for fair pay in HE.

Second, the union will be asking branches to choose a further day of strike action in June or July aimed at creating the maximum local disruption. The could be an open day, a popular day for exam boards or even in some cases a graduation day.

Thirdly, the union is asking you to step down from any external examiner positions you currently hold and not to apply for or accept offers for new external examiner posts. This is a big step but I hope it will demonstrate to the employers that there will be no ‘business as usual’ until they seriously address our claim for fair pay in HE.

The union’s lawyers have drawn up some advice for current post holders here. To protect your own contractual position, I would strongly recommend you follow the advice and provide the correct notice as specified in your contract with the employing institution. Please email me to let me know when you do resign any examiner posts.

Fourth, with effect from 25 May 2016 the union will be asking you to ‘work to contract’ and – in any case – to work no longer than 37 hours a week every week until further notice. I have gathered together a series of frequently asked questions about what working to contract means and about the 37 hour weekly maximum. You can read them here.

Fifth, the union is making detailed preparations to call for strike action on 18 August, the day when A Level results are released in England. Similar alternative days will be called for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland aimed at hitting university admissions.

Sixth, the union is making detailed preparations for a full setting and marking boycott to begin at an agreed point during the autumn term.

Of course I hope that none of this action is necessary because the employers finally decide to see sense. Since 2009 your salaries have reduced in value by 14.5% against inflation, yet there is a surplus of £1.8bn across UK higher education and those in charge of our institutions have awarded themselves pay rises three to four times higher than those achieved by rank and file academics.

I would like to thank you for all your support since the ballot finished. We are determined to take the first steps towards fair pay in HE.

Sally Hunt
UCU general secretary