The YUSU Sabbatical Team Statement on Industrial Action
UCU (a trade union for academic staff) is planning 14 days of industrial action from Thursday 20th February to Friday 13th March 2020. Members of UCU across 74 institutions, including York, voted to take industrial action on pay, pension and working conditions. We don’t yet know how University of York students will be affected.
We know that many students are concerned about the potential for disruption to their teaching and learning. Others are aware that the impact of this round of action could well affect them in different ways from the last round in late 2019. At the same time, Officers respect the democratic rights of staff to take this action. This is a complex issue and we wanted to understand our members’ views on this matter, so we consulted students to gauge feelings on the 14 days of action.
894 students responded, of which 47% (420 students) indicated they would like to support the UCU Industrial Action, 45.5% (407 students) to oppose UCU’s Industrial Action, and 7.5% (67 students) had no preference.
The student body is clearly split on this issue. Noting that there are only 13 votes between supporting and opposing industrial action, and a further 67 with no preference, Officers feel the best course of action to reflect student opinion would be for the Union to refrain from taking an individual side on the matter, and instead focus on how we can best support every one of our students during this divisive time.
To support students impacted by industrial action we will:
Lobby the University to mitigate the impact of industrial action on students.
Work closely with Course Reps and Department Reps to understand the effect of industrial action on students.
Continue to provide regular updates to students with the latest information as soon as this is available.
Push for the University to reinvest funds from withheld pay directly into the student body.
Following the previous industrial action in 2018 YUSU was able to secure funding to be reinvested in students as part of the ‘Equity of Provision’ programme. We will be opening up discussion with the University on options for its financial decision regarding withheld pay in the weeks ahead, once there is more clarity on the situation. Students will be kept updated throughout on officers’ social media and the YUSU website.
To support the striking staff we will:
Visit the picket lines as officers on behalf of the Union with hot drinks and snacks for striking staff.
Engage with these staff to inform our updates to students.
If you want to support striking staff you can talk to your lecturers and stand with them on the picket lines. We expect there to be picket lines at the main entrances to the University campus and areas of high footfall.
Should you have any further questions, or should this action directly affect you, we ask that you let your department know and read YUSU’s guidance for students affected by Industrial Action. Staff, Union services and YUSU’s Advice and Support Centre remain impartial in order to support all students.
Further information on industrial action:
University of York - https://www.york.ac.uk/industrial-action/students/
UCU - https://www.ucu.org.uk/
Keep an eye on YSTV for YUSU’s Q&As with University and Union leaders.