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Industrial Action Updates

 

[Sabbatical Officer Statement: Updated 11/3/2022]

Last week, the first round of strike action from UCU came to a close. Last Monday was PGR day, in which UCU focussed on the issues faced by PGR students, and Eleanor your Postgraduate Officer met with members of UCU to discuss current PGR issues. On Wednesday, your Sabbs attended the picket line and supported the last day of strikes Wednesday. However, we would like to update students that the Newcastle University branch of UCU will now be taking part in an additional 5 days of strike action from 21st March – 25th March.

Therefore, we will be continuing to have meetings with key university staff on mitigating the impact on students and working with students and staff to reiterate NUSU’s stance. We will also be continuing to hold study sessions each day of strike action with refreshments available and would like to remind students that NUSU is a neutral space for everyone to access without crossing the picket line. The university is continually updating its FAQs so please keep checking back and get in touch with your school if you have any concerns.

Videos explaining the mitigation measures the university have put in place should be made available on Canvas very soon and modules that have been disrupted by strike action will be clearly marked on Canvas so students do not have to inform their school and staff can make the necessary adjustments to modules and assessment to mitigate the impact on students. We would like to remind students that if they feel they have been significantly disrupted by strike action, please submit a PEC form.

We will continue to keep you as updated as we can, please find some useful links below.


Take a Stance

Strike Action Poll Results

Last week, we opened an all-student poll about the upcoming Strike Action, and we would like to thank all students that got involved to let us know if they supported the industrial action voted on by the UCU, or not. The poll closed at 10am on 7 February, and we can now share the result with you.

1600 students voted in the poll:

  • 53.3% voted for ‘I support strike action’ 
  • 42.0% voted for ‘I don’t support strike action'
  • 4.8% abstained

Now we have the results, what happens now? Click here to read more.

Strike Action

General FAQs

 

The University and College Union (UCU) – the trade union that represents lecturers, researchers, and other university staff such as librarians and administrators– has voted in favor of taking strike action and action short of a strike.

UCU members at Newcastle University have voted in favor of industrial action as part of two separate disputes. One dispute concerns pensions and the other concerns what UCU calls ‘the four fights’: pay and conditions, casualisation, workloads, and inequality.

Pension Disputes

In recent years, UCU has been engaged in an ongoing dispute with university employers –represented by Universities UK (UUK) – about proposed changes to one of the main occupational pension schemes for university staff.

UUK has proposed that both employers and individual employees should increase the respective amounts that they pay into the scheme in order to meet a funding shortfall identified by a recent valuation carried out by the scheme’s trustees.

UCU argues that these proposals are unfair, and are demanding that UUK drop these proposals and instead revalue the pension scheme. You can find out more about the specifics of the pensions dispute here.

The 'Four Fights' Dispute

The ‘four fights’ disputes groups together four issues affecting university staff: pay erosion, casualisation, unmanageable workloads, and equality failings. If you want to find out more about these issues, you can read the UCU FAQ.

If you want to find out more about the strikes, you can contact the Newcastle Branch of UCU or speak to your lecturers if they have announced that they will be striking.

 

Support FAQs

 

Q: If the strike is affecting my teaching/tuition, am I entitled to a reduction in my tuition fee loan or refund?

The university does not automatically offer a reduction in tuition fees or refund as a result of strike action. If you would like to discuss your dissatisfaction with the strike action, please request an appointment with the Student Advice Centre (SAC) to talk through the options available to you.

 

Q: If the strike is affecting my teaching/tuition will this be considered when assessing my work and how do I inform my school that my studies have been impacted?

Each school will be impacted by the strike action differently as some will have more staff striking than others, impacting students in different ways. You can submit an Enquiry form to the university to inform them of the impact and ask how they intend to mitigate this within your school eg, blanket extensions to assessments, adjustments to exam content, support sessions, question sessions, etc. The university will ask Senate whether the Industrial Action constitutes an emergency situation that would allow for Emergency guidance to be released. Emergency guidance can allow for extraordinary adjustments to be implemented to minimise impact- we are waiting for more information on this from the university. If you need an adjustment to an assessment due to circumstances exacerbated by the strikes you might need to submit a PEC, for further advice please book an appointment with the SAC.?

 

Q. Will my School be affected by the Strikes?

The university will write to colleagues in advance of the industrial action asking for staff to declare whether they will be taking action so that measures can be put in place to reduce the impact on students. However, staff is not obliged to inform the university of their intention to participate in the strikes in advance. You can ask whether your lecturer/tutor is intending to participate but you should keep in mind that they do not have to tell you. You should assume a session is going ahead unless told otherwise.

 

Q. Should I still submit my assignments during the strikes?

Yes, you should continue to submit assignments as normal.

 

Q. I am a PGR student, and the strikes are impacting the progress of my research, what should I do?

You should keep a record of any disruption as a result of the strikes and keep in communication with your supervisory team (if available) and log any request for adjustment (eg extension) on NU Reflect or ePortfolio.

 

Q: My studies are not being affected by the strike, but I don't feel comfortable coming onto campus and crossing a 'picket line', can I still access advice online? 

Yes, you can still access the Student Advice Centre online. If you would like an appointment please complete our booking form, we offer Microsoft Teams or Zoom appointments. If you would like a face-to-face appointment, you can still access NUSU.

 

Q. Can I speak to somebody from the University about the strike action?

A. Yes, The Student Progress Service (university service) will be offering drop-in sessions if you need advice and guidance on what to do if your learning is disrupted.

Student Progress will continue to offer their usual drop-in sessions at the following times:

  • Wednesdays 14:00 – 15:00
  • Thursdays 10:00 – 11:00

The following additional sessions will be available on days when strike action is due to take place:

  • Monday 14th February – 11.00 – 12.00
  • Tuesday 15th February – 15.00 – 16.00
  • Friday 18th February – 12.00 – 13.00
  • Monday 21st February – 11.00 – 12.00
  • Tuesday 22nd February – 15.00 – 16.00
  • Monday 28th February – 11.00 – 12.00
  • Tuesday 1st February – 15.00 – 16.00

If you wish to attend any of the SPS drop-in sessions in person please report to the Helpdesk on Level 2, King’s Gate, and you will be directed to the right location.  Alternatively, if you would rather attend virtually please email casework@ncl.ac.uk to either agree on a time during one of the scheduled drop-in sessions or agree on an alternative, mutually convenient, meeting time.

Our priority is to support you & all students throughout this period of Strike Action. Here are just some of the things we have planned: 

  • We will promote information about the strike via our website social media. This included the background to the strikes, how students supportive of the strikes could get involved, and FAQs from the University about measures being taken to mitigate the negative impact on students.  
  • The Sabbatical Officers will provide you with updates throughout the period of industrial action through their role accounts.
  • The Sabbatical Officers will meet with key senior staff and will look to gain assurances that students will not be assessed on material that was not delivered due to the strikes.
  • Our Student Advice Centre (SAC) will inform students about PEC forms and other practicalities. The SAC can offer academic and consumer rights advice via individual appointments. If you would like to book an appointment with the SAC you can do so here.
  • We will remain open throughout the industrial action and we will be operating as normal.
  • We will have study power hours on the top floor to create a sense of community during this time. Join us on the top floor every day industrial action is taking place and we will have free fruit, teas, and coffees.

 

 

Strike Action

Have a query?

If you have a question or comment for the University about the industrial action please use the links below or take a look at their FAQs.