UCU Strike Action – GSA statement – 21/02/18

The University have compiled a list of Frequently Asked Questions that we know many of our members have been asking or worried about. You can find this list here https://www.york.ac.uk/students/industrial-action/

The FAQ features an explanation of the reasons for the strike taking place from the Universities perspective in the interest of balance we also want to direct you to information produced by UCU https://www.ucu.org.uk/media/9 177/USS-message-for-students-s trike-poster—colour/pdf/usss trike_door-poster_colour.pdf

We know many students have already been informed by their departments about what actions are being taken to try and mitigate the impact on their studies. If you have not heard anything you should contact your department and make sure you read any emails coming from your department.

The University has set up a dedicated email address for handling question about the strike action industrialactionqueries@york.a c.uk.

We wanted to highlight a few key points that students have been asking us about:

Picket Lines
Many students will need to cross picket lines on strike days to attend teaching, hand in assignments and reach their accommodation. The University have stated that students who do not wish to cross the picket lines will not be able to use this as a reason for mitigating circumstances, and they should be able to find an alternative route to their destination fairly easily. For any students concerned about crossing the picket lines, UCU has issued guidance to its members on picketing, which promotes peaceful picketing focussed on raising awareness of the union’s case -https://www.ucu.org.uk/media/ 1132/Branch-picket-guidance/pd f/ucu_picketing-guidance1.pdf

We would encourage any students who need to cross the picket lines to take the opportunity to talk to the members of staff who are striking.

If as a result of the strike action you miss your teaching, assessments will be changed to reflect this. You won’t be assessed on material where there wasn’t appropriate teaching. This is something we will be actively monitoring following the strikes.

Tuition Fees
The student contract with the University says they are under no obligation to refund for teaching missed as a result of industrial action. The University has also stated that fees cover a holistic educational experience and not just direct teaching time. We know this is a position that many of our students do not agree with and we will continue to raise this issue with the University.

Th University has notified Staff that their pay will be withheld if they take part in the strike action on any of the specified 14 days. The University do not get to keep this money and any amount withheld in this way will be put towards student causes, including the hardship fund.

GSA Approach

Many of our members have asked why the GSA isn’t publicly supporting or condemning the strikes.  In short we have members who will be striking and members who are angry they’ll be losing teaching time that they feel they have paid for.  We recognise the very valid concerns the academic staff and students have regarding the pensions issue, but have to balance this by ensuring that our student members are not prevented from accessing learning and teaching.

We need to put aside our personal feelings on the issue and do what we believe best supports all of our members. To this end we are focussing on getting clear information out to our members and believe that we can only do this by remaining neutral and maintaining a dialogue with all parties involved.

It is an emotive issue with deep ideological and practical aspects and we know this position will not be popular with everyone. We are committed to the belief that the education system should be fair for all.

We believe a swift return to negotiations is best for everyone involved and will continue to ask the university to do what it can to make this happen.

The Vice Chancellor will be holding an information session where he will try to address student concerns and provide up to date information. The date for this information session is Tuesday 27 February from 2.30pm to 3.30pm in the Berrick Saul Building, Bowland Auditorium. You can register for a ticket using your York email address here.

Charlotte Chamberlain, GSA President

21st February 2018