Frequently Asked Questions on Industrial Action for Staff
Why are the Unions taking Industrial Action?
The three recognised Unions (UCU, UNISON and Unite) have declared that they are in dispute over national pay negotiations.
What form will the Industrial Action take?
There are two courses of action planned; a further one-day strike is expected to take place on Tuesday 3rd December 2013 involving all three Unions. UCU continues to request its members to participate in Action Short of a Strike which commenced on Friday 1st November.
Will the University remain open on 3rd December?
In the interests of students, the University will aim to operate as normally as possible on 3rd December. Schools and departments have been asked to initiate their local Business Continuity Plans, assess the likely impact of the strike and determine locally how best to ensure normal activity continues.
Employees are only legally permitted to participate in this industrial action if they are a member of a union. Staff who are not members of UCU, UNISON and Unite should work normally. Staff who are absent without leave on 3rd December and have not had that absence approved prior to that day will be subject to a pay deduction of 1/261 of salary.
Will my pay be deducted if I take Industrial action?
Yes. The deduction will be based on 1/261 of salary.
Will my pension be affected if I take Industrial action?
Pension contributions will not be paid by the University on the day or days of any strike action for those who participate in the strike. Further advice on implications for your pension can be obtained from the University pension office on ext 74397 or for USS members from the USS website.
Can I opt to take annual leave on the days when industrial action is taking place?
Annual leave can be taken if it has been agreed in advance. Your School or department will consider further requests for annual leave in the context of likely staffing levels and the need to maintain normal operations.
Can I work from home on 3rd December?
Yes if it has been agreed in advance. Please note that each School or Department will consider further requests in the context of likely staffing levels and the need to maintain normal operations. If you are scheduled to teach or attend meetings on a strike day then it is likely that your request will be refused on this basis. The University expects students to receive teaching currently planned, unless the person delivering it is on strike.
Can I request Emergency Leave on 3rd December?
Yes, if the requirement for the emergency leave is not related to industrial action.
Where the request for emergency leave is related to the industrial action which has been anticipated for a period of time emergency leave will not be granted.
Do I have to inform my School/Directorate that I am taking part in Industrial Action?
You are asked to assist your School or Department in planning its activities by notifying your management of your intention to strike in advance of the day of action. This is to assist with planning activities around who is working. However at this stage it is voluntary: there is no legal obligation for you to advise the University of your intention to strike before the day of action takes place.
On the day of the strike your School or Department will note who is not in work and whose absence has not been authorised in advance (holidays, hospital appointments, certified sick leave etc) or notified in advance (those who have notified of participation in strike action).
Following the day of the strike Heads of Colleges/Prof Services will establish who was on strike. At this point if you are asked whether you participated in the strike action you have a legal duty to inform us. If you refuse to reply to this request, your absence will be treated as participation in the strike action and pay deducted accordingly.
What about pickets?
During a strike pickets are entitled to assemble at or near their place of work. We expect that UCU, UNISON and Unite pickets will be at main entrances to University buildings and in particular at Main Building. However pickets are not entitled to be on University premises and must remain on the public highway without causing an obstruction.
The law allows pickets to seek to explain their case to those entering or leaving the picketed premises, and/or to ask them not to enter or leave the premises where the dispute is taking place. In no circumstances does a picket have power, under the law, to require other people to stop, or to compel them to listen or to do what s/he asks them to do. A person who decides to cross a picket line must be allowed to do so.
There is a national code of practice on picketing: http://www.bis.gov.uk/files/file23914.pdf. Any breaches of the code should be reported to your School or Department.
What if I am concerned about crossing a picket line?
Staff should not feel concerned or intimidated about crossing a picket line. Pickets may invite you to listen to their concerns, but cannot force you to do so. Pickets cannot intimidate or harass other University employees who are carrying out their contractual obligation to come into work. Any staff facing intimidation, harassment or insulting behaviour from members of a picket should report the incident to their manager.
What if I refuse to cross the picket line?
If you refuse to cross a picket line and you are not a member of UCU, UNISON or Unite you will be in breach of your contract of employment with the University and this could lead to disciplinary action.
Am I able to work from a University building other than my usual place of work on 3rd December?
Staff should make every effort to attend their usual place of work on 3rd December, however in the event that the building is inaccessible, they will be able to report for work at an alternative University building. A list of these University buildings and opening times will be available separately.
What about Health & Safety Issues on 3rd December?
It is the School or Department’s responsibility to ensure the Health & Safety of staff and students. If groups of students are normally supervised e.g. PG Research students and this supervision is absent, appropriate alternative supervision will need to be provided. Further guidance on Health & Safety matters is available from Andy Berry on 74137.
Guidance for Staff on Action Short of a Strike
UCU have asked their members to participate in action short of a strike in relation to a dispute over the national pay negotiations. The University has been informed that this action will take the form of "working to contract" and that it will be on a continuous basis from 1 November 2013.
The University is keen to ensure that the impact of industrial action on its students is minimised and as such is expecting staff to abide by their contracts of employment; which includes working to their job descriptions, working their contracted hours (35 per week for non-clinical staff/37.5 a week for clinical) and in the customary ways of their schools and departments.
Staff members who participate in "working to contract" should not engage in any activity that would cause them to be in breach of their contractual obligations. As staff will be performing all of their contractual duties, they will be paid in full. Members of staff who decide to take action short of a strike should advise their HR Business Partner (details below).
It is important to note that the University’s policy is to withhold pay of staff who participate in action short of a strike which amounts to a breach of contract. Partial performance of the contract is not accepted and the University reserves its right to withhold up to 100% of pay if that were to happen. (The rate of deduction is 1/261st per day.) As UCU’s instruction is that its members should “work to contract”, we do not expect that any member of staff will act in a way that breaches their contracts of employment.
Contact Details for HR Business Partners:
|Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences||Rhian Roberts||RobertsR24@cf.ac.uk||X 79195||07814452623|
|Biomedical and Life Sciences||Kim Newcombe||NewcombeK@cf.ac.uk||X 88653||07875480618|
|Physical Sciences and Engineering||Juliet Jukes||JukesJ1@cf.ac.uk||X 79103||07875202798|
|Professional Services||Michelle Jones||JonesMF3@cf.ac.uk||X 70887||07875198317|
What does "working to contract" mean?
UCU have issued guidance to members about their proposed call to "work to contract", which is available on their website (http://www.ucu.org.uk/workingtocontract). In principle however staff are reminded that their contractual relationship with the University comprises both express and implied terms. Express terms may stipulate particular hours of work or duties to be undertaken – these will be as outlined in your contract of employment signed when you joined the University alongside your Job description and any agreed changes since. Implied terms include the principles of performing duties in an efficient manner and to provide faithful and co-operative service to the University. Staff would also be expected to follow reasonable managerial instructions and requests in the delivery of their normal contractual duties.
I'm taking action short of a strike, who do I have to inform?
If you are asked by an appropriate person, you will need to answer truthfully whether you intend to “Work to Contract”. This is to ensure that the University is able to plan the delivery of its services
Will my pay be affected?
Any staff member who intends to "work to contract" should not be engaging in any activity that would cause them to be in breach of their contractual obligations and as such the University accepts that as they will be performing all of their contractual duties they will be paid in full. Staff are reminded however that the University does not accept partial performance and a failure to fulfil the entire range of contractual duties will lead to pay being deducted. In these circumstances staff are required to inform the University by contacting your Human Resources Manager/Business Partner.
Where a member of staff does not perform their contractual duties (partial performance) or engages in industrial action in the form of a strike, pay will be deducted at a rate of 1/261 of annual salary for each day pro-rated for part-time staff. Deductions will be made in the next available payroll following submission of the form.