Strike Action Q&A

For information regarding the logistics and agenda for the strike day, please visit this page: https://uobunison.org.uk/strike-info

Questions about strike action

We’re starting to put together the questions you’ve asked us about strike action into a complete FAQ about what striking means and the protection the law gives you. Here’s a few of the questions we’ve been asked in the last few days though:

  1. Do I need to tell my manager that I will be striking/ I have taken strike action?
No. If your manager asks whether you intend to take strike action, you can answer with:
‘I have been advised by UNISON not to answer this question’
‘Could you put this question in writing, please?’
Do not let managers dissuade you from joining the pickets. They will try everything they can to convince you to cross the picket. Let us know if you feel under pressure.

We’ve heard that staff and students across the University are being told to come into work in order to undermine our strike. Managers are asking them to make themselves available to ‘cover’ for staff who’ll be on strike, and have promised various types of ‘rewards’ for crossing the picket lines. If this is happening in your area, do not be intimidated by their strategies and let us know who the offenders are. We can call them out through direct communications with HR and broadcast this malpractice through other channels. We do not take this practice lightly. 

We all have the right to strike – this is a human right based in law that cannot be denied to anyone if the strike is legitimate (and ours is). They will say and do anything in their perceived power to divide us, to frighten us, and to spread misinformation. Be aware of it and be confident in saying NO to their requests for you to come in for work on the day. Have a conversation with your colleagues too, so they know that if we stick together, things will only get better.

You don’t need to tell your manager you are taking action/ will be striking. Don’t call into work, don’t go to work. Join the pickets instead!
You should not be threatened or harassed if your manager thinks you might strike – contact us by email or call Mike on 07964926949 if this happens and we will deal with it straight away.

2. New core – UNISON advice

UNISON’s position on this is the same as in our 2012 and 2014 strikes. We have notified the University formally that we are calling on all support members of staff to take strike action, and we have as such notified the University on your behalf. Industrial action is therefore the default reason for absence for any member of support staff who does not attend work (i.e. if you’ve not booked leave or are sick). You do not need to record your absence on New Core – it is a management responsibility to determine who attended work.

If your manager asks if you are going to/ have been on strike, you can answer with:

  • I have been advised not to answer this question.
  • Could you put this question in writing, please?

For academic and academic related staff, we are not calling you out on strike, therefore we have not notified the University on your behalf. It is your choice on whether you feel you need to follow the University’s guidance if you elect not to cross the picket line.

3. Is the strike fund for everyone?

Yes, all UNISON members can claim from the strike fund for lost income. We hope to meet all claims in full because of the level of reserves we’ve dedicated to the dispute and the support we expect to get from other branches. Though the form does ask for financial details, this is only so that we can prioritise funds in the unlikely event we cannot meet all claims in full. If the thought of losing pay is giving you second thoughts – come out on strike and put in a claim, no matter what your band is. All applications will be processed in a couple of days if you give us proof of the deduction. Download the strike fund from here: strike-fund-form. We will bring hard copies of the form on the picket lines.

4. Can I be disciplined for taking strike action?

No, disciplining someone purely for taking strike action as part of a lawfully conducted strike ballot is illegal. The University has confirmed to us that they will not take action against anyone just for participating in the strike.

5. What do I do on the day of the strike?

You do not need to call into work or tell anyone that you are on strike. Come to our picket line demonstrations instead! We’ll be asking staff from different departments to cover different entrances but will confirm this early next week – if you aren’t sure just come to East gate (by the Guild). Pickets will start from 4.30am and 8am.

6. I work nights, what time does the strike start? 

The strike starts promptly at 00:01am as this is the date we have notified the University. All managers of night staff should be aware this is possible because we did the same in 2014.

7. General advice for academic related staff

You do have the right not to cross a picket line, however! We are happy to advise you on your individual situation and will support you in whatever you decide. On the day itself, we will be encouraging all staff not to cross the picket line, and instead to join us for a few hours of discussions, fun, and collective hope! We’ve written a longer piece of guidance here: https://uobunison.org.uk/strike-advice-ar

Bring your pets to the pickets (just like voters brought their pets to polling stations) and tweet your photos by using the #hellobrum, #weareuob, and #uobstrike hashtags!

8. Retirement – if you have notified the University of your intention to retire, please get in touch with us for specific legal advice.

9. I work in a flexi-time scheme, what should I record for the strike days?

The most important thing is to make sure you don’t get charged for the hours twice so you should indicate your normal working hours for the day in the “other” column, or drop the working hours for the week (if you are able to do this with your local process). Avoid specifically stating industrial action as the reason if at all possible and get in touch with us if you need any specific advice.

10. Can I park on campus?

The branch do not consider the use of a University car park to be crossing the picket line (as long as you don’t attend work for any time at all on the strike day), though please note we should not demonstrate or picket on campus itself (only at entrances). University policies on car parking do not prevent their use by staff who are not working (you just need to display a valid permit at all times and cannot leave your vehicle for longer than 24 hours).

11. What will happen after the first strike day?

After the strike we’ll come back to you, the members, to decide what to do next. What we propose will depend on whether the University has finally offered something concrete, but the final decision about any follow up action will be yours.

12. What is Tim Jones on about?

We may find it difficult to answer this one but we’re sending a direct response to his email which you should see here (response no 1) and here (response no 2).

13. What is a strikebreaker?

Management’s strategies used this week to try and dissuade staff from taking strike action and standing in solidarity with all other strikers are not new. They are not moral either.
Here is a photo from 1884 of Pinkerton agents escorting strikebreakers in Buchtel, Ohio.
While some things change, others stay the same.. Managers are doing what they have always done: trying to use their power to break the strike. Don’t let them.
 Here’s a simple wiki page with info on strikebreaking tactics: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Strikebreaker
‘Strikebreakers are usually individuals who were not employed by the company prior to the trade union dispute, but rather hired after or during the strike to keep the organization running. “Strikebreakers” may also refer to workers (union members or not) who cross picket lines to work’.
Do not be a strikebreaker. Stand in solidarity with staff on campus.


Strike Action mythbusters: https://uobunison.org.uk/strike-action-mythbusting

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