UCU Strikes: How it will impact us at Cardiff Uni and what we can do about it
Reimbursement? Yes please
UCU have announced that 74 UK universities, including Cardiff, will experience strike action for 14 days. The disputes for the strikes include issues of universities not improving pay, equality and workloads, building on the previous strikes in November 2019.
Since announcing the next wave of strike action, UCU said one million students were affected in the November 2019 strikes, with a further 200,000 students being affected this month.
So, how will it directly affect us and what can we do about it?
As students, we will miss up to 22 days of lectures in this academic year due to strikes; a considerable amount for the tuition fees paid. Union members are also encourage to perform 'action short of strike' which means they won't work over contracted hours and won't reschedule missed lectures, another downfall for students.
So while you may want to support university teaching staff in their cause, you may be wondering how you can ensure you're also being treated fairly.
Well look no further, here are a few things you can do in response to the strike.
Support teaching staff by not crossing the picket lines
The strikes are happening for good reason and if you're passionate about supporting the cause, don't cross the picket lines.
Union members will be picketing in front of university buildings in attempt to discourage students and non-union members entering the university during the strike, strengthening their cause.
Nevertheless, it is important to be informed about why the picketing is happening before deciding to support strike action so ensure you have familiarised yourself with the causes.
Write to the Students' Union
As implied by its name, the Student Union is a separate body to the university and is there to represent students.
If you feel that as students we aren't being taken into consideration enough during the strikes, you can write to the SU sabbatical officers and ask if they can represent the student body in appealing to the university for fairer treatment.
They're there to represent you – use them!
Reimbursement and Compensation
After the strikes in 2018, a petition for reimbursement of missed lectures started at Bangor University. Following this, universities are being told by the Office of the Independent Adjudicator for Higher Education (OIA) to pay compensation for the missed teaching hours during the strikes.
To make an appeal, you must first approach the university and ask if they are able to offer compensation. If the university state that they cannot do so, the appeal can be taken further to the OIA.
The OIA have previously, with reference to the consumer protection legislation, helped students to be reimbursed over £1,000 because of strikes. More information on this process can be found here.
A spokesperson for UCU advised students to "[demand] that universities put the huge sums of money they will save from not paying staff during the strike into student-facing activities" as it seems only fair that the saved money is being put to good use elsewhere.
If you're thinking about applying for compensation, make sure you're fully informed about whether or not you have a strong appeal as nothing is guaranteed.
Keep up with studies
A major concern among students during the strike period is falling behind in studies.
An easy way to counter this is heading to the library and read around your topics, or do the reading for missed lectures anyway – it might seem pointless at the time but you'll thank yourself later!
This might mean having to cross picket lines, but you can still respect the cause while continuing to work hard for your degree.
If the thought of the strikes seems overwhelming, don't be alarmed as there are many things you can do.
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