Strikes start today, here’s how they will affect you as a York student

Lectures are striking today, tomorrow and next Wednesday

Strikes across the UK start today including at The University of York where UCU members will be striking over disputes regarding pay and pensions. Lecturers will be striking today, tomorrow and next Wednesday (30th).

Last month, the Universities and Colleges Union (UCU) won its national ballots for industrial action, with over 70,000 university staff at 140 unis taking part in the vote. According to the UCU, the dispute remains unresolved.

Starting today, staff will also be participating in action short of strikes which would see them working only to their contracted responsibilities and not taking on anything voluntary like covering for absent colleagues and answering your emails sent outside working hours.

The York Tab has put together this guide explaining everything you need to know about how the strikes may affect you as students:

What happens during a strike?

UCU members that are striking will not be working, so teaching will be affected if lecturers and tutors are union members. Picket lines are then formed outside the common entrances to campus including Heslington Hall, King’s Manor and The Retreat. Picketers may wish to tell you about the action, and why they are striking. This is legal, but these staff cannot prevent you from entering the campus (even though crossing the picket line is often seen as disagreeing with the union’s goals.)

Picket lines are generally pleasant and welcoming, and many unions have organised events such as teach-outs or poetry reading to be held. If you come across a picket line, it is entirely up to you if you wish to engage or not with members of staff taking part in the industrial action.

Will my classes be cancelled?

If your tutor or lecturers are participating in this round of strikes, any scheduled classes on November 24, 25, and 30 will be cancelled. They don’t have to tell you if they are going on strike in advance, but most will notify students beforehand.

In an email to students, Vice-Chancellor Charlie Jeffery told students to assume teaching and learning activities will go ahead as normal. He said: “We don’t know how many staff will be taking part, or to what extent, and patterns of participation can vary significantly both across and within departments. So it is very important that you engage with your scheduled teaching, labs, assessments and other learning activities, unless you have been told otherwise by your department.”

You are welcome to ask your tutors their plans for the strikes but staff are not obliged to answer. If your teaching is cancelled, you are also welcome to meet as a teaching group either in the allocated room or off-campus if you prefer not to cross the picket line) to discuss the teaching planned for the class.

Why are my lecturers striking?

Lecturers are striking over disputes over pay and pensions and working conditions.

Will libraries be open?

All other university resources and support will remain open and available as normal. This includes the Library, student support and wellbeing services, on-campus catering outlets, shops, and the Sports Village.

Will my supervisor be available?

If your supervisor is taking strike action or action short of a strike, they may not be available, or may only be intermittently available, during the period of industrial action. If this is the case, they will likely have an out-of-office notification on their email explaining their position.

Can I claim compensation for loss of teaching?

If your department makes arrangements to mitigate lost teaching (such as rearranging or making alternative teaching and learning available) and you incur out of pocket expenses as a consequence (such as additional child care or travel costs) you can submit your case for reimbursement by emailing [email protected]. Claims will be dealt with on a case-by-case basis and you will be asked for evidence.

How can I support the strikes?

UCU members are striking to protest against inadequate and unequal pay and cuts to pensions, and staff will also be forfeiting their salaries during the strike period. Many students may want to support them in gaining improved working conditions, which some draw parallel to students’ learning conditions.

If you want to support the strikes, there are many ways to do so. These include trying not to cross the picket lines, attending events held as part of the strikes like teach-outs, signing petitions or writing letters of support, and possibly joining the picket lines. For more information about how to support the strikes and information about picket lines follow @UCUYork on Twitter.

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