When are the strike days? 

Monday to Friday 4th to 8th December inclusive.

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 will have voted for it by majority, the more we stand together, the more we can show the employer that we will not accept these low, below-inflation pay rises. 

If you voted ‘No,’ the majority of members in the branch 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. 

How do I sign up to be on a picket line?

We look to organise picket lines on each campus to encourage members to strike locally to them. We ask that you sign up to be on a picket line so we can ensure we can see where our members will be and ensure we have enough UNISON material (flags, picket signs etc) and Branch Exec in place (as well as snacks and drinks)

Link for the Sign up for our picket lines below:

Monday 4th to 8th December

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.

Previously, the University have sent a number of emails that caused distress to many people and they may do that again this time. Remember – you do not have to tell them or add it to ESS in advance of the strike day regardless of what is said. If asked, you could say that you’ll decide on the morning of the strike.

The University will need you to log that you took strike action after the strike dates. Please ensure you log your strike action after the strike has finished, using ESS (Employee Self Service), so your strike deductions are processed, and you can apply for strike pay promptly. 

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

We understand that taking strike action can 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 upto £70 per day.
  • We will also be running a Branch Hardship Fund which may be able to cover up to 75% of the remaining loss of pay. 

You will need to show proof that you have taken strike action by completing the claim form and sending back with a copy of your pay slip showing the strike deductions and a pay slip showing your usual pay to unison[at]uwe.ac.uk or UWE UNISON Trade Union Centre (2FC123), Frenchay Campus. Strike pay is paid by UNISON’s national office and any hardship payment will come directly from the branch.

You can read more about both funds and other support available here.

I work from home on these days, Can I take strike action? 

Yes!

Do not log into work on the strike days, send us an email to unison[at]uwe.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. 

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 picket lines outside the University, you will be met by our reps and other members, and you can choose where you would prefer to picket – we will be covering as many entrances as possible. But remember, if you are striking, you can’t use any University facilities or come onto campus.

Picket lines are friendly and it’s a great atmosphere seeing colleagues and meeting new people. Seeing how much the public support us by tooting their horns or coming up for a chat is great. We had lots of fun during our last rounds of strikes with music, dancing and much flag waving! There are lots of photos on our social media pages. 

We will have hot drinks and morning pastries available to keep you going.

We would love for you to join us, so please do come along if you can. You can sign up here

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 membership forms and QR codes on hand for people to sign up at the picket lines. 

I have leave booked over the strike day(s), what should I do? 

If you take your leave, you will not 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 of members on the picket lines 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. 

I’m going to be at an event (ie. conference) for work over the strike day(s), what should I do?

If you attend a work event, or an event for work, you are attending work.  Again, there is no legal obligation to strike, but we are encouraging members to take strike action.

I need to drop my child off at the Halley Nursery on campus, will I be considered to be crossing the picket line?

No, The nursery is part of the Students’ Union at UWE and is a separate organisation to UWE. Please do stop at the picket line and say hi to the pickets on your way in. It would also be great if you can join us for a little while once you’ve dropped your child off.

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 campuses or you could consider using public transport.

Frenchay East gate – Coldharbour Lane parking bay (2hrs) outiside cemetary, or The Square, Long Down Avenue in Cheswick Village (Co-Op)
Frenchay North gate – Sainsburys/Lidl (2hrs, although you can book for longer here.
Frenchay West gate – Abbey Wood retail park (2hrs) or The Square, Long Down Avenue in Cheswick Village (co-op)

Glenside – on street in Quarry Way opposite campus or along Blackberry Hill

Bower Ashton – on street in Kennel Lodge Road or in Ashton Court car park

If you need Blue Badge parking and can’t find anywhere nearby, please contact us in advance. 

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 be quieter picket lines at the West gate and Mallard House entrance. We will have a small number of camping chairs available at the East Entrance for members who would struggle to stand for an extended period, but we would encourage you to bring your own if possible. 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. There is Sainsbury’s opposite the North Gate, The Stoke Gifford Retirement Village opposite the East Gate, Boston Tea party in Cheswick village a short walk from the West gate and Ashton Court a short walk from Bower Ashton. We appreciate that Glenside is a bit trickier, although hopefully, people with cars might be willing to run people down to a coffee shop on Fishponds High Street.

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.  

I have seen everyone standing at Frenchay’s East gate before and I cannot do this 

If there is an entrance that would be easier for you to picket, you can go there.  There will also be quieter picket lines at Frenchay,  Bower Ashton & Glenside campuses.

What time does the picket start? 

We will be setting up from 7am each day and packing down around 13:30.  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 you stay.  The busiest times for traffic are between 07:45 – 10:00, which is when we really need people around.

What should I wear to the picket line? 

Keep an eye on the weather forecast and dress appropriately. It’s December, so we recommend layers, remember hats and gloves too,  you will be standing/sitting outside for a few hours so do make sure you are comfortable. We will have some plastic ponchos and umbrellas on each picket line just in case of a downpour!

Will there be more strikes? 

We don’t know right now, but it is possible. Our current mandate to take strike action runs through to February 2024.

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? 

UWE will not pay pension contributions during that period, and you will not have paid your part of contribution for that day. There is more information available on the LGPS members website. The impact on your final pension would be extremely small but you might want to consider replacing the lost contribution. Check the amount on the LGPS buy extra pension calculator. 

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 23:59.

If there are any shift workers wanting support from a rep to walk out at 00:00 please let us know –  unison[at]uwe.ac.uk

All staff will be eligible to apply for Strike Pay and the Branch Hardship Fund. 

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

You can if you wish.

What if I am sick on the strike days? 

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. 

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 us: unison@uwe.ac.uk 

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 all matters regarding employment at UWE.

Remember:

“We are all worth more than this.” 

Christian Scott
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