When are the strike days?

Strike action will take place from Monday, 20 June through to Friday, 24 June – 5 days in all. All strike days will run from midnight to midnight.

Do I have to go on strike?

There is no legal obligation to strike, but we are encouraging all members to take strike action. The membership voted for it by majority, the more we stand together, the more we can show the employer that we won’t accept these low, below-inflation pay rises.

If you voted ‘No’, the majority voted ‘Yes’, so we hope you will join your trade union colleagues by participating fully in the industrial action, in line with UNISON’s democratic decision-making process.

My manager is asking if I will be taking strike action, Do I need to tell them?

No: you have no legal obligation to inform your manager or employer that you will take strike action in advance. If you do, they have notice to try and find cover for you which defeats the object of strike action – we want to show the effect of staff not being in work, and demonstrate to the University your value to them.

The University will need you to log that you took strike action after the strike dates –usually done via a web link. Please ensure you log your strike action after the strike has finished, using SAP, so your strike deductions are processed and you can apply for strike pay in a timely manner.

I’m worried about my finances if I take strike action, what help can I get?

We understand that taking strike action will have a negative effect on your finances. But we can help:

  • UNISON nationally have a strike fund which kicks in from the first day of strike action and entitles you to up to £50 per day
  • We will also be running a Branch Hardship Fund, details of which have been sent out via email previously and can be found on our website. Read through the info provided on how to apply.

Both payments will be made via the Branch. You will need to show proof you have taken strike action, such as signing the strike book on the picket line/sending an email to confirm you have taken strike action and sending a copy of your pay slip showing the strike deductions and a pay slip showing your usual pay.

Please note, we use your net pay as the basis for making a decision on how much strike pay to give: net pay is your take home pay, the pay that shows in your bank account from the University.

I work from home. Can I take strike action?

Yes! Don’t log into work on the strike days, send us an email to unison@leeds.ac.uk to let us know you’ve taken strike action.

You are of course welcome to join us on the picket line if you are able. Keep an eye open for ‘virtual picket lines’, and other activities via branch social media.

I’ve never been on strike before. What can I expect?

Don’t worry if you’ve never taken strike action before!

On the day, if you can make it to the pickets outside the University, you’ll be met by our reps and other members and you can choose where you would prefer to picket – we’ll be covering as many entrances as possible. But remember, if you are striking, you can’t use any University facilities or set foot on University property.

Picket lines are friendly and it’s a great atmosphere seeing colleagues and meeting new people. Seeing how much the general public support us by tooting their horns or coming up for a chat is great. We will be giving all those who attend the pickets a daily subsistence payment for food and drink.

We’d love for you to join us, so please do come along if you can.

Is there any official Covid guidance for picket lines?

Although there are currently no rules around mass gatherings in terms of Covid, we will be asking all members who attend the pickets to be respectful, keep distance from others as much as possible and wear masks.

My colleague wants to strike but is not a member of UNISON, what can they do?

If you have colleagues that are keen to take part, they can join before or on the day of strike action and be covered by UNISON’s legal protection on taking strike action. We will have QR codes on hand for people to sign up at the pickets.

What should I wear to the picket line?

Keep an eye on the weather forecast and dress appropriately. We are taking strike action during summer and you will be standing/sitting outside for a few hours so do make sure you are comfortable.

I have leave booked over the strike days, what should I do?

If you take your leave you won’t be classed as on strike. As a Branch, we would encourage all members with leave booked to cancel the leave and take the strike action instead. Obviously, if you are abroad or could not reasonably take strike action instead of leave then you should keep your leave as booked.

If you have annual leave booked for any of these dates we would ask that you cancel this so you are counted as part of the strike action. Please know that it is your choice how you spend your strike days, it is positive when we have a large number on the picket to illustrate the strength of our collective action but we understand that members may have already planned or booked things if they were due to take annual leave. We do not ask what you do on a strike day, only that you remove your labour from the employer.

Exemptions

Some members may be exempted from taking strike action. These include anyone who is pregnant and who has notified their employer of the expected date of birth, those who are in their last year of service and in a University pension scheme or if you are in receipt of benefits which will be affected. For more information, please contact the Branch.

Parking

We would encourage members to not use University parking, as this would mean crossing the picket line. There are other parking options available around the campus or you could consider using public transport if you are comfortable to do so.

If you require Blue Badge parking, please check in advance where you can park near to campus.

Accessibility

To ensure that as many members as possible can join us at the picket lines we will have the following measures available. Quiet picket – there will quieter pickets around Engineering and we can let you know on the day where to go (Please report to Parkinson steps first). We have a small number of camping chairs available for members who would struggle to stand for a long period of time, but we would encourage you to bring your own if possible as there are a limited number available. If you have any other accessibility issues, please let the Branch know and we will try and accommodate.

We appreciate that accessible toilets can be an issue which creates extra difficulties for some members. During a picket we should not be on campus, and it could be seen as trespassing, we also aim for the University to be closed so their facilities would not be available.

We are aware that there may be some times when the situation is very urgent / unexpected, meaning members may be obliged to use University facilities if they are open. We would not view this as crossing the picket, but we cannot guarantee how the University will respond to this. We would hope they would understand the need for disabled people to have their needs met but this is not something we can control. 

We have access to the Emmanuel Centre. Information about their accessible toilets and access can be found here https://www.accessable.co.uk/university-of-leeds/access-guides/chaplaincy-west-yorkshire  

And the Quaker House http://www.leedsquakers.org.uk/room-hire/_central-leeds  

There are also several cafes opposite the Parkinson Building which have toilets. If there is a café which is particularly accessible for you, you can picket the entrance which is nearest to this.

I have seen everyone standing on the Parkinson Steps and I cannot do this

If there is an entrance which would be easier for you to picket, you can go there. At 11-11:30am we meet at the Parkinson Step for speeches, songs, and a moment to all be together. Several members do stand on the steps but there is space on the pavement for those who cannot / do not wish to. You also do not have to take part in this if you do not want to / feel able to.

What time does the picket start?

We will be setting up from 7am each day and packing down around 12noon. You are under no obligation to stay all day, or get there for 7am, just come along whenever you can, all are welcome no matter how long they stay.

Will there be more strikes?

We recently held an online consultation on the current 2022/23 pay offer of 3%. Over 50% of you voted and the vast majority voted to REJECT the offer. We will be taking part in the industrial action ballot for this year’s pay offer. This ballot will be a postal ballot and you will receive your ballot through the post – we can update your address for you if needed. You’ll receive separate information about this ballot, but please do use your vote. If we pass the 50% threshold and the majority of members vote YES for strike action, we would look to start strike action again in the autumn.

Am I at risk of being fired for taking strike action?

Please see previous email from UNISON which you should have received at the end of May.

Will my continuous service be broken?

No.  During a strike your continuous employment is treated as ‘postponed’.  This means that the period you were on strike for will not count towards your continuous employment, but it does not break the continuity of your period of employment.

Will my pension contributions be affected by taking strike action?

If your employer docks your pay for the day of action, the employer does not have to pay pension contributions during that period and you will not have paid your portion of contribution for that day. The impact on your final pension would be extremely small but you might want to consider replacing the lost contribution.

If you make Additional Voluntary Contributions (AVC) to your pension, these will likely be affected if you take strike action. Please contact the Pensions Team for information.

I work part time/am a shift worker, can I still take strike action?

Yes!

Being part time or a shift worker makes no difference to your right to take strike action. If you are a shift worker, the strike days are covered from midnight to midnight so you may need to leave part-way through a shift to start taking action or be ready to start a shift part-way through when the mandate ends at midnight on Friday 24 June.

All staff will be eligible to apply for the Hardship Fund.

Should I put an out of office that states I am taking strike action?

You can if you wish. We shared templates during the last strike and we are hoping to send these round again.

What if I am sick on the strike day(s)?

Workers who are absent on sick leave when a stoppage of work starts retain their right to statutory sick pay during the period of industrial action.

If an employee reports sick on the day the action starts, the employer can be expected to make their own judgment as to whether they should be regarded as on sick leave or on strike.

For the purposes of statutory sick pay payable in the eight weeks after a period of strike action, average earnings will reflect the lower earnings during the period leading up to the illness.

When do you think we will see the outcome of our strike action?

What will be immediately recognised by the employers, is that we have been taken for granted for far too long and we are not prepared to accept it any longer; and that we, as a branch are capable of crossing the anti-democratic threshold of a 50% turnout – this has value because it demonstrates a strength and a unity that means they have to take us seriously in future negotiations on any and all matters regarding employment at Leeds.

Remember:

“We are all worth more than this.”

“This is not remotely World Class it is only just National Minimum Wage!”