Strike action: 31 October 2013

23 October 2013

UCU, Unite and Unison have notified UCL that their members will be taking industrial action on 31 October.

The dispute relates to the failure to agree the negotiated nationally 2013 pay rise, which is led by the Universities and Colleges Employers Association on behalf of Higher Education Institutions. The industrial action will take the form of strike action on 31 October 2013. UCU has also notified UCL that its members will be taking action short of strike action from 1 November onwards. This action will take the form of staff working to contract.

It is important to note the following factors that impact on these national negotiations:

  • The HE sector continues to face considerable uncertainty and financial insecurity; sustainability remains pivotal as HEIs make on-going adjustments to working within the new funding regimes.
  • The negotiations have taken place against a backdrop of economic stagnation and expectations of restraint, given a public sector pay policy that limits pay increases to 1 per cent. The outlook for public funding for HE remains uncertain due to predicted cuts to government expenditure and funding for teaching is more unpredictable, particularly for HEIs in England.
  • The pay offer of 1% for 2013-14 is made alongside the offer of a number of joint working proposals on other important elements of the unions’ claim, including the further work relating to the gender pay gap and on hourly paid and casual work.

UCL expects all staff to work efficiently and effectively to the terms of their contract (both express and implied). Where there is no breach of contract, there will be no deduction in pay.

Any member of staff who refuses to carry out their duties will be committing a breach of their contract of employment. In response to such action, UCL will withhold 100% of a day’s pay (calculated at 1/260). This means that if you decide to take part in the strike action or action short of a strike (ASOS) and do not fulfil the requirements of your contract, you will consequently not be entitled to your contractual pay.

For the avoidance of doubt, a manager is entitled to give reasonable instructions about how the contract should be performed – this includes prioritising work and timescales for completion.

To ensure that we only deduct pay for those taking part in industrial action your Head of Department or Division will be required to submit a list of those participating in strike action in their area.

If you have not got authorised permission to be away from work (e.g. agreed annual, maternity, paternity etc, sabbatical, special leave or you have not followed procedures for notifying sickness, etc.) then it will be presumed that you are participating in strike action or are unwilling to cross a picket line and your pay deducted accordingly. Please ensure that your Head of Department or Division is aware of any planned absences on 31 October.

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

UCL views the industrial action as wholly unnecessary. Such action is not conducive to seeking a resolution to the dispute or to restoring good industrial relations. UCL very much hopes that you will decide not to take part in the industrial action, and that it will not be necessary to implement the above policy on pay in your case.

I realise that many staff will not wish to participate in this action and deeply regret having to write in these terms. However, the actions of UCU, Unite and Unison require us to ensure that we have fully communicated UCL’s position to all staff, and I hope that you will understand why it is necessary.

Nigel Waugh, Director of Human Resources