Industrial Action FAQs
Industrial Action FAQs for QMU students and staff.
- For Students
- For Staff
Why is industrial action being taken?
The University and College Union (UCU) has called the industrial action nationally over what it regards as universities' failure to make improvements on pay and working conditions. Queen Margaret University is part of a national bargaining arrangement which determines pay across most of the UK university sector. The 2022/23 pay settlement from 1 August 2022 was an uplift of amounts up to 9% for staff on the lowest spine points, and an increase of 3% for staff on or above spine point 20. Unions have called for an increase to all spine points on the national pay scale of RPI (RPI was 12.6% in September 2022) + 2%, or 12%, whichever is the higher.
Can Queen Margaret University resolve the pay dispute by giving staff more money?
No. Trade unions, including UCU, and the organisations which represent university employers, undertake national collective bargaining to agree pay settlements.
What impact is industrial action likely to have on students?
At this stage, it is hard to determine exactly what impact the industrial action will have. While UCU members make up a proportion of total academic and professional support staff, the membership is unevenly distributed across the University. We do not know how many union members will support the call to go on strike. It is likely that the strike action will mean that some classes will be cancelled and coursework affected. However, we are asking students to attend classes and engage with course material (whether on campus or online) unless advised otherwise. Beyond the strike dates, classes and exams will continue as normal.
What is action short of a strike?
UCU has also called for action short of a strike (ASOS) from Wednesday 23rd November 2022 until further notice. ASOS will consist of UCU members only working their contracted hours 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.
Why can’t I get definite information on how the action short of a strike will affect me?
Quite simply, because we don’t know the full impact of the decision by some staff to take this action. We will work to minimise the disruption, and have put in place contingency plans, which we hope will, in most cases, fully resolve or minimise any issues. We do not expect that the extended period of working to contract will impact negatively on students.
Will I still be able to come onto campus during any strike action?
Yes, the campus – including all learning, social and sports facilities – will remain open throughout the strike. There may be a picket line at the entrance, but students and staff will be able to enter and leave the campus freely.
How will I know if my classes are to be cancelled?
Legally, union members do not have to tell the University in advance if they are taking strike action. Consequently we may not know which union members will exercise their right to strike on the days noted above.
We hope that your lecturers will let you know in advance when classes may be withdrawn or rescheduled. You are entitled to ask them about this, although they are not obliged to provide an answer. We advise you to check your email and the Hub regularly during the affected period.
We know that, along with all staff, union members genuinely care about the academic welfare of students, and some members may already have told you about their plans. In all cases, you can expect to be able to enter and leave the campus freely.
What about submission of assessments during the strike dates?
Unless you are contacted by your School or Division to inform you otherwise, all assessment deadlines of which you have been notified previously will still apply.
When will more information be available?
We will provide further updates by email whenever information becomes available.
Why is industrial action being taken?
The University and College Union (UCU) has called the industrial action nationally over what it regards as universities' failure to make improvements on pay and conditions. Queen Margaret University is part of a national bargaining arrangement which determines pay across most of the UK university sector.
The 2022/23 pay settlement from 1 August 2022 was an uplift of amounts up to 9% for staff on the lowest spine points, and an increase of 3% for staff on or above spine point 20. Unions have called for an increase to all spine points on the national pay scale of RPI (RPI was 12.6% in September 2022) + 2%, or 12%, whichever is the higher.
How will taking part in strike action affect my pay?
Participation in any form of strike action is a breach of contract and therefore the University will withhold a full day’s pay (1/365th) for each day (or part of a day) in which an employee takes part in strike action.
Pay will be withheld from the next available payroll following the last day of strike action, which in this case will be January 2023. Human Resources will write to all staff following the last day of strike action to ascertain who participated in strike action.
Please note that pay withheld due to industrial action will not be repaid at the end of the dispute.
If I go on strike how will my pension be affected?
Periods of absence from work due to industrial action are non-pensionable. No scheme contributions (employee or employer) will be deducted for any period of time spent on strike and, as a consequence, any earnings lost through industrial action are not included in benefit calculations.
What happens if I am on leave during any strike days?
Any leave taken on the strike days must normally have been agreed in advance of the period of strike action. The University has a duty to minimise disruption to students, other staff and its stakeholders by ensuring that there is adequate staffing in place wherever possible. Line managers will be asked to take this responsibility into account with respect to any requests for leave during the strike action period. If you have previously agreed leave with your line manager on any of the strike days, then this will be respected and treated as leave.
Can I work from home on a strike day?
The University operates a hybrid working model. This means that a number of staff may be working from home on the strike days under their locally agreed hybrid working arrangements.
What happens if I am sick on a strike day?
Staff who are unable to attend work due to illness should follow the University’s Sickness Absence Management Policy and Procedure.
What if I do not want to go on strike?
You are not compelled to take action, even if you voted in favour of such action. You cannot be ejected or disciplined by your union for declining to take part in the action.
I am a member of another trade union, can I take part in the UCU strike action?
No. Members of trade unions who have not completed a ballot will not be able to take part in the industrial action.