Skip navigation

Industrial Action

We regret that UCU’s industrial action may cause further disruption to our students and, as always, we want to do all we can to protect the interests and experience of our students at Northumbria as well as the 90% of our staff who will not be participating in the action.

The University will remain open during the period of industrial action and the University will do everything possible to cover any activities which may be impacted by the action.

The following FAQs are designed to help you understand how we will minimise the disruption and Northumbria’s position on what is a national dispute affecting many universities.

 


About the Industrial Action

Members of the Universities and Colleges Union (UCU), the trade union which represents academic staff at Northumbria, may participate in the industrial action.  



The industrial action, taking place in 63 universities, is a national campaign over pay, equality pay differentials, casualisation and workload. The campaign is referred to by UCU as the ‘four fights’.



Northumbria’s position is more positive than in many other universities......click here for more details

Action short of strike (ASOS) will be continuous from Monday 7 February 2022 until 13 July 2022 (at the latest) and five days of Strike Action will take place w/c Monday 21 March 2022.

ASOS under the current mandate consists of UCU members working only their contracted hours and duties, and not volunteering to do more; not rescheduling classes and lectures cancelled due to strike action; not covering for absent colleagues; removing uploaded materials related to, and/or not sharing materials related to, lectures or classes that will be or have been cancelled as a result of strike action.



During strike action some colleagues refuse to work and may join picket lines to peacefully protest. Picketing is where colleagues taking part in industrial action gather in small groups outside their place of work to seek to persuade others not to work. 

Staff on picket lines should not stop you from entering a building or prevent your access to any part of the campus and the picket lines should not feel intimidating.

If you feel intimidated in any way, or witness any behaviour you find concerning please contact the Security Team.




Learning and Teaching information for students

We respect the right of our staff to strike, but we will do everything we can to minimise the impact on your learning and teaching. Throughout the period of strike action, the continuation of your education will be our priority. We will make every effort to minimise the impact on your studies and have put in place plans to mitigate any potential disruption. 

Not all members of our staff are members of UCU and not all UCU members will take part in the industrial action. University buildings and services will remain open on the strike days, and we expect the majority of classes across campus to proceed as normal. However, some Departments may be more affected than others, and this may lead to some classes being cancelled at short, or with very little, notice.

In the event of a scheduled on-campus or on-line class being cancelled, your department will advise you in advance wherever possible. We are not able to provide advance notice in all cases because staff undertaking strike action do not have to notify their employer in advance. However, some colleagues may choose to inform the University of their intention to strike, which will allow for alternative plans and/or notification of any class cancellations. 

You will still be able to use our facilities, such as the Library and Students’ Union, as well other learning spaces, to study on campus during strike days.

You will not be recorded as absent if a class is cancelled due to strike action. This means, if you’re an international student with a Tier 4 visa or Student visa, it will not be affected.

Will my class be cancelled on the planned strike days?

When the University understands which members of staff are taking strike action, we will endeavour to mitigate the effect of the action on students by e.g. arranging alternate members of staff to be available to take affected classes or reordering module content. This could be for scheduled on-campus or on-line classes. We may not know the full picture until the day of action, as staff taking industrial action are not obliged to provide advance notice of their intentions. We will make every effort to give you advance notice if your classes are likely to be cancelled.

Will my grades be affected if classes are cancelled? Will I be able to graduate as normal?

Your marks and academic performance will not be affected by the industrial action and finalists will be able to graduate on time, as planned.

We will closely monitor any impact of the strike action on modules and ensure that action is taken to ensure no students are disadvantaged. This will include looking at rearranging any missed teaching, protecting the learning outcomes of your modules and ensuring all assessments are fair and appropriate, based only on material taught prior to the assessment.

I missed some classes during the strike days, can I have a refund?

At the moment the full impact of the industrial action is not clear, and every effort is being made to ensure that classes go ahead or that there are suitable alternate arrangements e.g. equivalent on-line resources or rescheduled classes at a later date. We apologise if students experience any difficulties during this period.

The impact of the strike action is likely to vary significantly, with some Departments only affected to a very limited degree. While we are unable to predict the detailed effects of the strike action, we will closely monitor the situation during the action. Following the period of planned strikes, we will be able to assess how many students have been affected and how any missed teaching has been mitigated. At this point, we will advise any students who feel the teaching on their modules has been significantly affected by the industrial action on the most appropriate route to make a complaint, which will be considered on a case-by-case basis. 

I want to make a complaint/ claim compensation due to the impact of the industrial action – what should I do? 

The impact of the strike action is likely to vary significantly, with some Departments only affected to a very limited degree. While we are unable to predict the detailed effects of the strike action, we will closely monitor the situation during the action. Following the period of planned strikes, we will be able to assess how many students have been affected and how any missed teaching has been mitigated. At this point, we will advise any students who feel the teaching on their modules has been significantly affected by the industrial action on the most appropriate route to make a complaint, which will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

If you wish to raise an issue with the University, please contact Ask4Help via the Industrial Action Help and Support article on the Student Portal.

We are working closely with Northumbria Students’ Union to make sure that students continue to be supported wherever possible.

The University will allocate a proportion of the withheld amounts to provide additional financial support to students, and will discuss with the Students’ Union the best way to achieve this.

If you are a student and you need further guidance, the Industrial Action Help and Support article on the Student Portal provides more information and a link to speak with someone via Ask4Help. 

 

My personal/guidance tutorial has been cancelled, and I really need some support – what do I do?

Another member of academic staff on your programme, or your Head of Department, should be able to provide advice and guidance. You can also contact Ask4Help at any Student Central location if you are experiencing difficulties finding the support you need, as one of our professional support teams may be able to help you.

Will I be able to contact my personal tutor during the strike? 

Yes, you will still be able to contact staff as you usually would. There may be a delay in receiving a response, so if your question requires urgent attention or in doubt, please contact your Head of Department or Ask4Help via the Student Portal. 

Is Ask4Help at Student Central still available?

Yes, Ask4Help support will be as normal. 

I’ve got an appointment with the mental health team/careers etc booked for that day – has it been cancelled?

No, professional support services are unaffected by this industrial action.

Who shall I contact for more information about my specific modules?

Please check information and advice on your student portal. If your query is not resolved please then please contact Ask4Hep.

I am a postgraduate research student – what will this mean for me? 

We anticipate all facilities, including laboratories, will remain open. However, if you are in any doubt, please talk to your supervisor or department. 

It may be the case that your supervisor takes action and therefore any scheduled supervision for a strike day may be cancelled and need to be rescheduled.  

Students at our London/ Amsterdam Campus

As professional support will be unaffected, our FAQs apply equally students in London and Amsterdam.


Will my grades be affected if classes are cancelled?

Your marks and academic performance will not be affected by the industrial action We will closely monitor any impact of the strike action on modules and ensure that action is taken to ensure no students are disadvantaged. This will include looking at rearranging any missed teaching, protecting the learning outcomes of your modules and ensuring all assessments are fair and appropriate, based only on material taught prior to the assessment.

Should I submit my assessed work as usual?

Yes you should, all assessed work will be marked. If an assignment has been set, please make sure that you submit by the published deadline otherwise you run the risk of the normal penalties for late/non submission. 

What do I do if my question isn’t answered above? 

If you are a student and you need further guidance, the Industrial Action Help and Support article on the Student Portal provides more information and a link to speak with someone via Ask4Help. 


Participating in Industrial Action

Colleagues who engage in strike action, and where their planned sessions cannot be covered, will be asked to reschedule sessions. All online materials must also be made available for students as soon as possible following the strike action. These requirements will be supported by adjustments to workloads so that the time is made available to achieve this as soon as possible.  

We believe that not rescheduling missed sessions, not covering for absent colleagues, removing uploaded materials related to, and/or not sharing materials related to sessions that are cancelled as a result of strike action, where workload is reprioritised to enable this, will have the most significant impact on student learning and failure to carry out these duties will amount to partial performance and a breach of contract which will result in pay being withheld. 

Only members of UCU are allowed to participate in the industrial action.  Colleagues must notify the University that they have participated in the action by completing the online form.  We ask that colleagues complete this form as soon as they can after they have participated in the action.

If you do not advise the University that you have participated in industrial action it will be assumed that you have worked normally.

Colleagues who are hourly paid, for example Associate Lecturers and Demonstrators who withdraw their labour in support of the industrial action will not be paid for any work not delivered on those days.

All Northumbria University employees (regardless of contract type) who participate in the industrial action should complete the online form and should not claim any hours that they had planned/been scheduled to work on those days.

The data included on your form will be processed for the following purposes:

  • Mitigation planning and delivery
  • Making pay adjustments

It will be accessed by the following for the purposes outlined above only:

  • Your Head of Department (and their deputies)
  • Colleagues involved in instructing and processing the pay adjustments.   

Your data will be destroyed no later than 31 July 2022. 

Membership of a trade union is special category data.  The University has a lawful basis for processing this data on the grounds of Article 6.1.b contract performance and Article 9.2.b 'processing is necessary for the purposes of carrying out the obligations and exercising specific rights of the controller or of the data subject in the field of employment and social security and social protection law in so far as it is authorised by Union or Member State law or a collective agreement pursuant to Member State law providing for appropriate safeguards for the fundamental rights and the interests of the data subject;’

The University is legally entitled to and has a legitimate reason to share the names of colleagues who intend to and subsequently do participate in industrial action with those who require it for the purpose of assessing the impact of the action and putting appropriate mitigation in place.  

In line with Northumbria’s Employee and Applicant privacy notice colleagues may make a request to the Data Protection Officer to see the data held on themselves and ask for it to be removed.   

 

The use of an online form means there is only one version of the data which is stored securely on one, rather than multiple servers, and it can only be accessed by those who require it for a legitimate purpose connected with the industrial action.  Some colleagues expressed concern that their data will be help in a data warehouse owned by Microsoft.  This is the case, however, data is encrypted and a confidentiality agreement is in place with Microsoft to prevent third party access to our account without explicit consent in response to a specific incident.   

You must not engage directly with students about the action or cancel any planned sessions, because the University will do all it can to cover your session so that students are not disadvantaged.  Faculties will communicate alternative arrangements where this is not possible.

 

Only members of UCU are allowed to participate in the industrial action, however, as the University is not able to identify UCU members we are asking all academic colleagues to let us know in advance if they intend to take industrial action or not, to assist with planning, by completing this online notification.  

While not mandatory, it allows colleagues to provide advance notice so that the University can take steps to mitigate the impact of the action on students, for example, by arranging for sessions to be covered or confirming that sessions will proceed as planned.  

Colleagues who are scheduled to deliver in person teaching or perform other campus based activities should attend work as normal on the industrial action days.  The University will do whatever it can to preserve student learning and support throughout periods of industrial action therefore colleagues who had not planned to be on campus may be asked to attend so that they are available to assist with mitigating the impact of the strike.

We ask that you please do not use University site facilities for Union activities or promotion for example printing. You should consult with your Union Representative for guidance on how this should be organised.

Yes, you may be asked to provide cover in the same way that colleagues are asked to cover for short term absences.

Salary will be withheld on the basis of 1/365th of normal pay for each day of participation in strike action.  For colleagues on a fractional contract, the amount withheld will be based on the proportion of their contractual working week that they participated in industrial action.

Where you work an alternative work pattern (agreed locally) for example compressed hours, please email Lorna.Adams@northumbria.ac.uk to advise of this, following submission of your Confirmation of Participation in Strike Action Form.

The effect on pay depends on the form of ASOS, its impact and whether or not it constitutes a breach of contract or partial performance of duties. 

The University does not accept partial performance of duties by any member of staff.  This means that if you take part in strike action and/or ASOS, including refusing to carry out any part of your normal contractual duties, you will be in breach of your contract of employment, and the University is entitled as a consequence to withhold your contractual pay by up to 100% for each day of no or partial performance.

Contractual duties include those which are expressly contained in terms and conditions of employment and role descriptions, along with those considered custom and practice. 

Participating in ASOS by not rescheduling missed classes and lectures, not covering for absent colleagues, removing uploaded materials related to, and/or not sharing materials related to, lectures or classes that will be or have been cancelled as a result of strike action, and not following other reasonable management requests amount to partial performance of duties in breach of contract, which the University does not accept.

The University intends to begin withholding pay, starting at a rate of 25% on each day that colleagues fail to meet the requirements of their role because they are participating in Action Short of a Strike. Pay will continue to be withheld until the member of staff resumes all aspects of their role. The University reserves the right to determine the exact timing and proportion of pay reduction for ASOS.  While the University may not immediately withhold salary payments for ASOS, we retain the right to withhold up to 100% of pay in line with University’s approach to Industrial Action and Withholding Pay but will inform colleagues via an email before increasing the amount of pay to be withheld. This approach is also being taken by many other universities faced with industrial action. 

No. Any pay that is withheld due to participation in industrial action will not be paid at a later date.

Pay will be withheld from the next available pay date following the action (depending on payroll deadlines). Pay will be withheld in April 2022 for participation in strike days on 21, 22, 23, 24 and 25 March 2022.


The University will use withheld pay to provide additional support to students and their learning.

Both employer and employee pension contributions will be affected as a result of pay being withheld. There will be a reduction in contributions proportionate to the pay withheld.

Absence from work due to industrial action is considered to be excluded service.

Under the Teachers Pensions Scheme (TPS) there is no option to make up the missing contributions.   

Within the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) members of the scheme may make up the missed employer and employee pension contributions. The cost will depend on how many days you were on strike.  If you wish to do this please send a request via AskHR prior to the first date of strike action, or as soon as possible thereafter. 



Members remain covered for death in service while participating in industrial action.

Latest Updates

Back to top