In addition to the recently announced strike dates, QMUCU Members will be taking action short of a strike starting 7th February 2022 and continuing until further notice. In other words, you should work strictly to contract, and should not:
- reschedule any lectures or classes that were or will be missed as part of strike action; or
- share materials related to lectures or classes that have been or will be cancelled as a result of strike action;
- cover for absent colleagues;
- undertake any voluntary activities
These actions are described further below.
Please note the ballot we voted on covered a wide range of ASOS activities, including a marking and assessment boycott as part of ASOS. We have a mandate for that action but it has not yet been called for. We will update you further if this changes. Unless notified otherwise, we have a mandate to conduct ASOS until Tuesday 3rd May 2022.
UCU’s national webpages detailing Q&As related to Action Short of Strike are available here.
Working to contract
Working to contract means abiding strictly by the terms of your employment contract. If you’re in any doubt about what you are required to do, check your contractual documents—your offer letter, statement of main terms and conditions and/or any staff handbook.
Taking action short of a strike does not mean that you can refuse a reasonable request from your manager to undertake something that isn’t covered by the examples above. How reasonable any request is will depend on the terms of your contract and custom and practice. If you are unsure whether a request is reasonable — for example, if a manager makes a request and does not provide a concrete reduction of workload in writing, you can inform your manager that you are seeking trade union advice on this matter and will respond in due course.
If you are a professional services member of staff, you too are covered by ASOS and working to contract and there is specific guidance for PS staff from UCU nationally available here.
As of 21 December 2021, ASOS includes not rescheduling classes and lectures that were cancelled due to strike action. Prior to this, our advice was not to take any steps to reschedule any teaching on your own initiative, and ask for appropriate support if asked to do so by your manager.
If you have already rescheduled lectures or classes that were scheduled during strike action, or your Head of School has rescheduled them, then once the action short of a strike mandate has started after 7th February you should not teach them.
This includes any scheduled teaching activity which would have taken place on one of UCU’s strike days and applies to all UCU members, not just those directly responsible for the relevant lecture or class. You should refuse to reschedule this activity when asked, stating in response that you are supporting UCU’s action short of a strike.
Not sharing materials related to cancelled activities
As of 5th January 2022 ASOS covers 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.
Not covering for absent colleagues
Unless providing cover for colleagues is explicitly part of your job description you should refuse to provide cover. Examples of this could include refusing to take on the duties of a colleague taking sick leave.
Where you feel absence cover is part of your role, or you are part of a team where duties are shared, you should feel confident to ask your line manager which activities you should depritorise to accommodate this absence cover within your workload.
Not undertaking voluntary activities
Where you have a choice whether to undertake some work you should choose not to do it. This can include for example, partaking in weekend open days for some staff, declining certain meetings etc. If you are unsure which activities are voluntary check your contractual documents, speak to your line manager, or contact the branch for advice. UCU also has more detailed guidance on what normally constitutes voluntary work here.
Where activities are voluntary but you feel they should be formally reflected in your workload, e.g. academic citizenship activities, contributions to EDI work, you should raise this with appropriate managers.
Threats of punitive deductions
Queen Mary management has told staff members that it intends to deduct 100% pay per day of participation in ASOS, including for refusing to reschedule classes cancelled due to strike action. You can read more about the branch response here.
The QMUCU branch is urgently seeking further advice to explore other options which could be taken to resist the threat of punitive deductions. Any further guidance the branch receives will be communicated as soon as possible.
A reminder that our next branch meeting will be held at 1 pm this Wednesday 9 February. Please join us on Zoom for a crucial vote on local action to combat QMUL management’s aggressive stance.