Information on industrial action

Updated on 7 September 2023

Information regarding current and forthcoming strike action at the University

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What industrial action has been called?

Members of Unite, Unison and UCU have voted to take industrial action in relation to pay.

When (which days) will the strike action occur?

Unite will take strike action on the following dates:

  • Wednesday 13 September
  • Thursday 14 September
  • Friday 15 September
  • Monday 18 September
  • Tuesday 19 September

Unison will take action on the following dates:

  • Monday 18th September
  • Tuesday 19th September
  • Wednesday 20th September
  • Thursday 21st September
  • Friday 22nd September

UCU will take action on the following dates:

  • Wednesday 20th September
  • Thursday 21st September
  • Friday 22nd September
  • Monday 25th September
  • Tuesday 26th September

UCU have also notified the University that they will stop the current marking and assessment boycott, with immediate effect.

What is the University’s response to strike action?

Pay and pensions are negotiated by UK wide bodies on behalf of universities across the sector. For universities and colleges the 2022/23 pay offer made by UCEA was the limit of affordability.

On pensions the University is committed to protecting existing benefits. This has come with increased costs and employers are already paying – and will continue to pay – the great majority of the extra contributions required under pension law.

Specifically on the University of Dundee Superannuation & Life Assurance Scheme (UoDSS), the University has listened to the feedback from staff and unions and decided to maintain a modified Defined Benefit scheme for existing members, and delay the introduction of the Defined Contribution scheme to new entrants until 1 January 2023.

The changes also align the scheme retirement age to the UK state pension age and include a provision to let leavers rejoin the scheme within a 12-week period to maintain their benefits.

In total the University has committed significant extra funding of £40m to the UoDSS over the next ten years.

The University is also addressing the unions concerns around casualisation, inequality and workload and aims to continue as a strong and progressive employer.

What is the University doing to minimise disruption?

We acknowledge that Unite, Unison and UCU have a mandate for industrial action and that it its members have the right to take part in any action/action short of a strike, called by their union.

The University also has the right, and duty, to take appropriate steps to minimise the disruption to our students. We will also ensure that staff who are not impacted by the dispute (and those who are but do not wish to take part in the action) can go about their normal work. Contingency plans are in place, with a focus on minimising disruption for our students, their learning and campus experience.

Staff who are not intending to take part in the industrial action will be expected to work normally. Staff in student facing roles may therefore be asked to prioritise teaching, student support and wellbeing over other activities.

While we recognise that union members are not obliged to disclose their intentions in advance, we do have the right to ask about these intentions and hope that staff will be willing to disclose both their intention to take strike action and action short of a strike. Such disclosure will be treated in confidence and solely to mitigate the impact of industrial action on our students.

The University will withhold pay from any member of staff who is absent without prior approval on strike days and for those who participate in the boycott of marking and assessment duties.

If I participate in the forthcoming strike action, how much of my pay will be deducted?

The general policy of the University is to withhold a day’s pay (at a rate of 1/365th of salary plus the full normal employee deduction paid into the relevant pension scheme) from staff for each day of strike action in which they participate. Contact the People Support team for more details if required.

The University does not accept partial completion of duties and therefore a full day’s pay may be withheld at a rate of 1/365th of annual salary as detailed above.

If I participate in the forthcoming strike action, when can I expect the deductions to be made from my pay?

If you do take strike action on the specified dates, please note that the relevant withholding of pay will likely be made in the next available payroll.

Provided the action is reported promptly to your line manager, for the current period of UCU action.

If I go on strike will this affect my pension?

In relation to pension, in order that strike days are not treated as days of suspended membership with loss of service, pension contributions must continue to be made in full, both by the University and the individual. Therefore, the University will make the employer’s full contribution for the day/days and likewise the employee will continue to make the full contribution for the day/days. It is assumed that striking members agree to this unless declared otherwise. Such declarations should be made directly to the University’s Pensions Officer, Marion Imrie 

If I choose to participate in the strike, how will the University know I am taking part?

Managers can ask staff if they intend to take part in the strike action in an effort to plan accordingly for the day/s of the strike.  Whilst this is the case, staff are not obliged to say whether they intend to take strike action, before going on strike.  For staff who do not attend work on these days and managers are unclear as to whether they were on strike or not, staff will be asked if they were on strike.  All striking staff must in turn declare their strike action.

Each Directorate/School will be asked to monitor strike activity.  Whether you are working on campus or from home on a strike day you must notify your line manager of your absence due to your participation in the strike action. 

I normally work overtime. If I go on strike, will this have an effect on my overtime earnings?

Time lost due to strike action will not count as time worked.  If you work extra hours, these will be paid at plain time until you reach the number of hours required for overtime rates.

I have a shift which runs across the strike and non-strike days – how will this affect me?

Any strike action will only be lawful if it is taken on the notified strike days. So, you will be expected to be present at work in the usual way for any days that strike action is not scheduled for. This includes any employees who may have shift patterns which straddle strike and non-strike days. 

Any absences for reasons of strike action outside of the notified dates are unlawful and may be subject to disciplinary action.

If there are pickets at the entrances to the University, can I cross a picket line?

Picketing of workplaces is protected by law, and the law expects that picketing will be undertaken in a peaceful, respectful and courteous manner.

Pickets may try to persuade you peacefully to support the industrial action; however, staff who wish to work have the right to do so and will be free to cross the picket line.  All employees are expected to adhere to our Dignity at Work and Study Policy and Procedures. Please speak to your line manager and/or the People Support team if you are concerned regarding crossing a picket line to discuss your options.

Can I join colleagues on a picket line?

Any member of staff, regardless of their union affiliation or membership, can take strike action. If you do declare that you have taken strike action pay will be withheld at a rate of 1/365th of salary (plus the full normal employee deduction paid into the relevant pension scheme) for each day of strike action in which you participate. Contact the People Support team for more details if required.

Can I take annual leave during strike action?

Leave already approved by your line manager prior to notification of the strike action will be honoured. Any new requests for leave to be taken (including leave to be taken during the period of strike action) will be reviewed against operational requirements, by your line manager. Every effort will be made to allow leave to be taken before the end of the holiday year, however, only in exceptional circumstances will staff be allowed to carry leave into next year.

I have an agreed hybrid working arrangement, can I work from home so I don’t have to cross a picket line?

Your hybrid work arrangement has been agreed by your line manager to meet the operational requirements in your area. If you wish to request that your days working on campus are changed this will need to discussed and agreed by your line manager.

What happens if I am sick on the days when there is a strike?

If you are off sick on a strike day, you must notify your line manager of your sickness absence as required by the University’s reporting of sickness absence procedures. It should be noted that while for absence lasting not more than 7 days the 'self-certificate' DSS Sickness Benefit Claim Form will normally be sufficient certification, the University reserves the right, to require an employee to submit a medical certificate from their General Practitioner.

Does taking strike action affect continuous service?

Day(s) on which legal strike action is taken do not break continuity of employment.  However, strike days are excluded for the purposes of accruing statutory entitlements, e.g. qualification for sick pay.

The Unions have called to ‘action short of a strike (ASOS). What does this mean?

The Unions have called to ‘action short of a strike (ASOS). What does this mean? 

UCU has confirmed that action short of strike (ASOS) will consist of:

  •  members only working their contracted hours and duties
  • not volunteering to do more
  • not rescheduling lectures and classes 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
  • participating in a boycott of marking and assessment

The first two of these actions would not constitute partial performance. However, the other four forms of ASoS are a breach of contract and therefore do constitute partial performance. The University will not accept partial completion of duties and a full day’s pay will be withheld at a rate of 1/365th, with the same provision being made for pension contributions being maintained as previously outlined in this communication.    

We recognise the right of trade union members to take industrial action and will strive to maintain positive working relationships with the campus unions throughout the dispute. At the same time, the University will seek to minimise the effects of strike action on key stakeholders, particularly students.   

How will the campus be kept safe and secure for our students and staff, if certain groups of staff responsible for safety and security may be on strike?

The University is very aware that it will continue to have a statutory duty to provide a healthy and safe work environment for all staff who are at work, together with students and others on our campus. While some disruption is inevitable to the normal day to day routine running of the University, we can assure our University community that we can continue to operate in a safe manner as per our statutory duty. 

In response to the notified industrial action, the University has considered the impact on health and safety on our campuses to ensure that it can continue to comply with its statutory duties during this time. Colleagues across the University have worked to identify and mitigate risks and we have consulted with external partners like the police and fire brigade to ensure that our plans are appropriate.

We are confident that the arrangements ensure that provisions like emergency response, fire alarm activation response, first aid and cleaning comply with our statutory duty for providing a safe working environment for the University community during the notified industrial action. 

In the event of an emergency, our community should continue as normal to use the emergency call buttons and dedicated security phone line (01382 385850).

During the strike action will there be staff in place to help evacuate people from a building if they have a PEEPS evacuation plan in place that states they require mobility assistance (i.e. access to an emergency evacuation chair)?

Deans, Directors and School Managers have contacted staff with mobility issues who require assistance to exit a building in an emergency as identified by their PEEPS, to discuss with them where they can work safely. H&S advisers in Schools and Directorates are also aware of people in their areas who could be affected.

Should staff have any questions about the University position in respect of the above matters, please contact peoplesupport@dundee.ac.uk



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Corporate information category Absences and related