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Industrial action

The University and College Union (UCU) has achieved a mandate for industrial action at Queen Mary, and had advised us of 10 days of strike action and also that its members will be asked to undertake action short of a strike.

This FAQ page provides information for our students on this period of UCU industrial action at Queen Mary.

Strike action at Queen Mary is planned as follows:

  • Week 1: Thursday 5 to Friday 6 May (2 days)
  • Week 2: Monday 9 to Friday 13 May (5 days)
  • Week 3: Monday 16 to Wednesday 18 May (3 days)

Action short of a strike (ASOS), which includes a marking and assessment boycott, will take place from 19 May to 20 September 2022.

Recent previous strike action took place as follows:

  • Week 1: 5 days - Monday 14 to Friday 18 February
  • Week 2: 2 days - Monday 21 and Tuesday 22 February
  • Week 3: 3 days - Monday 28 February, Tuesday 1 and Wednesday 2 March
  • Week 4: 5 days - Monday 28 March to Friday 1 April

The disputes are in relation to the USS pension scheme and pay and working conditions. Pensions and pay are nationally-negotiated issues. UCU has balloted its members in universities across the country for industrial action.

For more information on these issues in relation to Queen Mary, please see the following information on the USS pension scheme, and blogs on tackling gender inequality and challenging fixed-term and casual contracts.

113 members of staff took part in the ten days of strike action between 14 February and 2 March. Of these 113 members of staff, 56 participated in 3 days or less and 12 took part in all 10 days strike action. Over 50% of striking members of staff are from our Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences.

A further 5 days of industrial action occurred between 28 March and 1 April. 39 members of staff participated of which 17 participated in all 5 days. As with the previous action the majority (62%) of striking members of staff are from our Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences.

To date, all Schools, Institutes and individual colleagues have confirmed that all missed education as a result of strike action has been made up or is scheduled to be made up. Therefore, currently no deductions have had to be made for partial performance in relation to the request to prioritise all planned educational activities, with the University accepting impact due to industrial action, which is significant, occurring on non-educational activities.

Taking strike action generally means the individual will not work for that day, or period of days. Action short of a strike (ASOS) means working to contract and not undertaking ‘voluntary’ activities. 

No. All students due to graduate this year, who reach the required standard, will graduate on time and as planned. All students in the earlier years of their degrees, who reach the required standard, will progress onto their next year of study. Also, we will not compromise on the quality and standards of our assessment processes as a result of this industrial action: your work will be assessed as rigorously as normal, and hence your marks, and degree classification, will be a true reflection of the quality of your performance.

External examiners are an important and valued part of Queen Mary’s assessment processes. Subject areas normally have multiple external examiners. We embed externality into our educational provision in a number of ways in addition to the input of external examiners, in assessment and elsewhere. In the areas where we have received resignations from external examiners, we will use other means to ensure that our marking procedures have been followed.

Peaceful picketing, outside the University premises, is a lawful activity and may include staff on picket lines talking about why they are on strike, and asking people crossing the picket line not to go into work. 

Staff and students wishing to cross the picket line, to get to work or to their lectures or to use University facilities, are entitled to do so freely and without fear of those on the picket line trying to stop them in any way. There is guidance on the UK Government website and restated in the UCU guidance for branches on picketing on what constitutes peaceful picketing. This includes not being physically or verbally abusive, not making a noise nuisance, not blocking entrances and not damaging property. Security staff will be monitoring the picket lines and if any staff or students feel intimidated crossing the picket lines they should contact security immediately, on 020 7882 3333. 

When arriving on campus on strike days it is possible that you may need to pass staff taking part in the strike at the entrances to the University. Please be assured that the trade union has issued guidance that indicates that all pickets are intended to, and must, be peaceful in nature. Access to campus entrances will not be blocked in any way and you should feel able to pass freely and easily without confrontation. If you witness anyone on a picket line exhibiting unacceptable behaviours, please contact security immediately on 020 7882 3333. 

Only Queen Mary staff can join a Queen Mary picket line. No staff from other organisations are allowed to join and no students, from Queen Mary or other universities, should join the picket line. 

We are working extremely hard with Heads of Schools and Institutes and other University leaders to minimise the impact of this industrial action on students’ teaching, learning and overall experience. Schools and Institutes are working hard to mitigate the impact of industrial action on the students in their areas and will communicate directly with them, where needed, about next steps. 

In order to protect students’ education, Queen Mary will be asking all staff taking part in any industrial action (including ASOS) to prioritise all planned educational activities above all other activities. 

Unless you are informed otherwise by your School or Institute, you should attend your timetabled sessions as normal. Please do keep checking your Queen Mary email account for the latest information. Not all members of staff are taking part in the industrial action and many lectures and other classes will run as normal. Wherever possible, we will let you know in advance if any of your teaching sessions are likely to be affected. However, staff do not have to tell us in advance if they are going on strike so in some cases this will not be possible. 

Where teaching has gone ahead, attendance will be monitored as normal. 

You should assume your class is running unless you have been told otherwise. If you attend a class and find the lecturer is not there, please wait for 15 minutes past the start time. If at the end of that time your lecturer has still not appeared, you can assume they are not coming and leave. You should inform your School or Institute that the class has not taken place. If you are unsure about anything or want to talk to anyone about untaught lectures or seminars, please contact your Head of School or Institute. 

We are working extremely hard with Heads of Schools and Institutes, and other University leaders to minimise the impact of this industrial action on students’ teaching, learning and overall experience. Schools and Institutes are working hard to mitigate the impact of industrial action on the students in their areas and will be communicating with them directly about next steps. 

In order to protect students’ education, Queen Mary will be asking all staff taking part in any industrial action (including ASOS) to prioritise all planned educational activities above all other activities. 

If any of the students’ timetabled teaching time was cancelled, the School or Institute will have informed the Registry office, and they will ensure that students will not be marked as out of attendance. This means that there will not be any impact on their visa status. 

Supervisions, review meetings and vivas for research students are arranged on an individual basis. Please contact your School or Institute in the first instance if you have any concerns. Alternatively, you can contact the Research Degrees Office: researchdegrees@qmul.ac.uk. 

We will make sure you are not disadvantaged in your assessments by this period of industrial action. 

Please assume that deadlines still apply as normal unless you are contacted by your Head of School/Institute to say that an extension has been granted. 

Please assume that deadlines still apply as normal unless you are contacted by your Head of School/Institute to say that an extension has been granted. 

All student services, including our libraries and student wellbeing services (including advice and counselling), will remain open as normal throughout the period of industrial action. 

If your teaching is cancelled because of strike action, your School or Institute will be aware of what you have missed so it will not be necessary to submit an extenuating circumstances claim. Please do not submit extenuating circumstances claims just because you think you might have been affected. Only submit a claim for a clearly defined issue that is specific to you as an individual. 

If you wish to raise a complaint, please follow the University’s normal complaints procedure. Information about this can be found here.  

We are working hard to mitigate the impact of this industrial action upon our students. We have put in place policies to ensure that any education missed as a result of industrial action is made up. Your fee is based on the delivery of your overall experience for the full duration of your course, rather than for a specific set of teaching contact hours. It is also important to remember that the tuition fee covers all aspects of your time at Queen Mary and all the facilities that are available to you. For these reasons, in line with other universities, we do not believe any refund is appropriate. We are continuing to closely monitor the impact of the industrial action on our students’ education.

Students can raise and track a query through Student Enquiry Centre Online, email studentenquiry@qmul.ac.uk, or talk with their school or institute (contact details can be found here). 

Communications with students

 

Title and linkDateFrom
Update from the Principal - 4 May 2022 [PDF 108KB] Wednesday 4 May 2022 Colin Bailey
Update from the Principal: 2 February 2022 [PDF 126KB] Wednesday 2 February 2022 Colin Bailey
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