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Taking non-strike action

1 March 2018 | last updated: 25 March 2020

UCU's general secretary says many universities are 'crossing a line' over members taking action short of a strike.

UCU general secretary Sally Hunt has this morning written to USS members urging them to continue their industrial action against changes to their pensions during non-strike days.

The union is asking members to take action short of a strike (ASOS) which means they should:

  • refuse to reschedule classes or lectures which are cancelled due to the strikes
  • refuse to provide cover for absent colleagues
  • refuse to undertake voluntary work
  • work to contract.

Sally explains that, 'It is your legal right to take this action but it seems that some institutions are seeking to bully and threaten staff with punitive deductions from pay.

'Many members ask whether such deductions are lawful? In most cases yes they are - but institutions following these policies are still crossing a line in terms of their relationship with staff.

'Put simply they are trying to use the full power of the UK's anti-trade union laws to force you back to normal working. That is not something that any university should do.

'Remember that across the UK 93% of UCU members voted to take this action short of strike (ASOS) and that you have a legal right to do so.

'Remember also that you have strong support from students who will be horrified at the approach taken by some universities.

'And finally remember what this is about - it is an attempt to undermine your lawful action just days before negotiations recommence.'

She adds that the UCU strike fund will be made available to any member who ends up being deducted for taking ASOS 'but in the first instance we will also raise the issue in our forthcoming negotiations.

'Institutions should understand that by treating you with such contempt they make reaching a national agreement more difficult.'

She finishes by reiterating that UCU is asking every member to take ASOS 'including senior staff who as always in UCU have a crucial role to play in setting an example - especially when it comes to refusing to reschedule classes.

'Thank you for your support.'