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FE Pay Dispute September 2021 – Going on Strike FAQ

Strike FAQs and guidelines on picketing

If you have a question that is not answered here, please email your branch secretary or . We will do our best to reply to you and/or update this FAQ.

1. What am I expected to do during a strike?
2. Do I have to tell my employer that I am taking strike action?
3 . What about my students?
4. Am I breaking my contract by taking strike action?
5. How much money will I lose?
6. What if I am part time?
7. How will it affect my pension?
8. What is the law on picketing?
9. I am not a UCU member. Can I take part in the strike?

1. What am I expected to do during a strike?

Your union will only take strike action once every other avenue of influence has been exhausted and when your branch officers think there is no other way to make members’ views clear. It is a very serious sanction and that’s why we ask that every member observes the strike. Every member who does not observe the strike is directly undermining the union’s bargaining power and making it harder for the union to protect all its members.

When we call a strike we ask that members do not come into work and do not reschedule their classes. The best possible thing you can do is contact your local rep and volunteer to help out on the picket lines. It isn’t illegal, it isn’t dangerous and it can be fun.

2. Do I have to tell my employer or my students that I am taking strike action?

In order to fulfil legal requirements, employers have been provided with statistical information about UCU members taking industrial action, but not individual names. You are under no obligation to inform management in advance as to whether you will be taking part in strike action.  If you do you are undermining the effect of your strike action. You are under no obligation, even, to say that you are a union member. You should not tell students in advance or set work in your absense for the same reason. However, if your manager asks you after the strike whether you took action, you should answer truthfully as pay will be deducted and trying to avoid this may constitute a disciplinary offense.

Have ready a form of words such as, “I undertand that the union has fulfilled its legal requerements in informing managent of everything they have to. I fully support the actions of any UCU member here taking action and if I answer I am undermining their efforts to get us all a pay rise.”

3 . What about my students?

We are a union of professionals and we know that our members don’t like taking any action that affects students. It is the same for many public services. However, when we take action, we are generally making a case for greater investment in or defence of the quality of the service we provide. In the case of job cuts, for example, we argue that our students will be hurt far more by management’s actions than by our own. Observing the strike is defending the interests of staff and students alike. Undermining the strike might feel like the right thing in the short term but will only serve to encourage management and we will all suffer more in the longer term.

Formally, it is management’s responsibility to explain to students if classes are to be cancelled on strike days. However, you may wish to talk to your students before the strikes explaining why the union is taking this action. We will have a leaflet available explaining to students why we feel it is necessary to take action. Ask your rep for copies. Do not tell students if you are taking strike action as doing so is effectively telling management.

4. Am I breaking my contract by taking strike action?

All effective industrial action may be a breach of your contract of employment. But because UCU has carried out a statutory ballot and the action has been formally called, the law protects workers from dismissal whilst taking part in lawful industrial action or at any time within 12 weeks of the start of the action and, depending on the circumstances, dismissal may also be unfair if it takes place later.

5. How much money will I lose?

You should expect to have a day’s salary deducted for taking part in the strike. Some institutions state that 1/260th of your annual salary will be deducted for each day of action. Any loss greater than this can be challenged by the union.

6. What if I am part time?

UCU believe that any deduction must be pro-rata for part time staff. The deduction must only be for your contracted hours. Please contact UCU for support in challenging any greater loss.

7. How will it affect my pension?

In previous one-day strikes it has been the experience of UCU that most university employers do not withhold superannuation contributions and therefore participation in strike action has not generally affected pensions. Also, institutions that do choose to withhold contributions often make provision for members to make up pension and AVC deficits from their pay. If you are concerned about any effect, contact Chris Mason at UCU (

8. What is the law on picketing?

Peaceful picketing is entirely legal. Picketing should be carried out at or near an entrance or exit from a site at which the pickets work. When others who are not in dispute come into work or use these entrances or exits, pickets must not interfere with them.

The legal categories of people permitted to picket are:

UCU members in dispute
UCU officials and NEC members supporting members in dispute, providing they are accompanying union members who work at the location.
Visitors to the picket are entirely lawful but should not form an official part of the pickets and should not, for example, be given armbands.
Further detailed advice on the picket lines should be issued separately.

9. I am not a UCU member. Can I take part in the strike?

We would like everyone to respect the picket lines and not go into work, but if you are not a UCU member we will not be able to support you if the college decides to take disciplinary action against you. However, it is your general support that counts—if you can get permission from your line manager to take annual leave or work from home, this would be support.


UCU South West online rally, 25 June – #RebuildFE









If you are a UCU member of one of the five colleges in the Extended South West Region: City College Plymouth, City of Bristol College, Swindon New College, Truro & Penwith College and Weymouth College you are invited to an online rally, 12.30pm – 1.30pm on Friday 25 June, in support of UCU’s #RebuildFE campaign to address pay and funding in further education.

Please join Sean Vernell, and Jackie Darcy, vice chairs of the UCU further education committee (FEC) and members of UCU’s South West regional committee.

Please look out for invitations and instructions on how to join the Zoom meeting in your email inbox. 

After consultation with branch members, letters have now gone to principals of five college in this region: City College Plymouth, City of Bristol College, Swindon New College, Truro and Penwith College and Weymouth College demanding a pay increase of greater than 5% and strikes at eleven colleges in England, including the five in the South West, are now on the cards.

Industrial action ballots opened on the 14 June for members of UCU. As a member of one of those five colleges, you will have had your ballot paper by now.

The dispute is over college bosses’ refusal to make a decent pay offer to staff. The pay gap between college and schoolteachers currently stands at £9,000 as staff working in further education have suffered real terms pay cuts of over 30% in the past decade.

After years of UCU’s joint campaigning with employers, further education (FE) won £400m of increased government funding, £224m of which arrived in August 2020 and could have been used for staff pay. However, employer body Association of Colleges (AoC) recommended a pay offer of just 1%.

Come to the meeting; stand with your colleagues, demand the pay increase you deserve after nearly fifteen months of worry and increased workloads; close the school-college pay gap at your college after more than a decade of below inflation FE pay increases.

Further information here

FE colleges ‘Missing Millions’: see how much your college received.

Best wishes

Nick Varney
UCU Regional Official

Conducting online surveys in your branch

UCU webinar broadcast 29 July 2020.




Research Officer Bargaining & Negotiations, Bargaining and Negotiations


Deputy Head of Campaigns, Policy and Campaigns

What are surveys used for and how you can use them in your branch?

Server platforms that are available to you

How to design surveys

GDPR – some details but detailed discussion beyond the scope of this session (get in touch for specific queries or for advice on your comment or the operation of the survey)

Ed Bailey – key areas covered

Online surveys present as a series of forms to the survey participant which can be used to collect data, opinions and votes. The forms are easy to design and have a rich set of options such as text boxes, multiple choice radio buttons and combo boxes.

They can be used for simple questions in consultations such as “Do you accept the managements proposals?” Yes/No” to complex textual answers and combinations of the two.

Also useful for information gathering, event registration, opinion gathering, petitions and open letters.
Sometimes for elections for branch officer roles (please consult UCU advice on continuing democracy in UCU under Covid )

NB – Surveys cannot be used for ballots for industrial action as they do not meet the legal requirements of the Trade Union Act 2016.

Many academics use surveying in the course of their work, so ask among your members for expertise if you do not personally have it. It is a good way to use the resources of your branch and get people involved.

UCU at Carlow Street has some capacity for creating and running surveys but please talk to your regional; office in the first instance.


Show we are listening, are used to find out what matters to members, get better results in terms of participation, are useful for making decisions, strengthen our hand in negotiations, are useful for split campuses and to overcome problems of geography.

Ed gives useful examples of showing support of members and strengthening your hand in negotiations

Example Platforms

Look out for – limits on numbers of participants, numbers of questions, options for analysing data, customisation, limited question types. Often only paid surveys offer conditional questions or “skip logic”, not all have options for anonymity, consider data export options.

SurveyGizmo – used at head office, free version limited to 100 responses, no conditional questions, no support, no customer branding. Paid for version £20 per month.

SurveyMonkey – used by head office previously. UK based, free version limited to 100 responses. Paid for version £25 per month.

Google Forms – widely used, free, no limits on responses, simple, no conditional questions of customisation. Output to spreadsheet only. Can also use MS Forms available as part of Office 365.

Jisc – education survey tool, slightly cheaper than other paid for options. Free 30 day trial.

Survey Legend
Paid version is £12 per month. 3 surveys but unlimited responses for free version.

Complete links to survey software mentioned in this talk

Rachel gives a thoroughgoing explanation of designing and implementing surveys and some background to Data Protection considerations.

The Regional Office for the South West can be reached at please contact us in the first instance for advice and support.



Further Education trade unions’ webinar on safe returns to onsite working

FAO: UCU FE England branch officers | cc: FEC, regions & staff

Dear colleague

UCU will be hosting an FE England joint trade unions open webinar, to which employer representatives will also be invited, titled ‘Working together to make any return to onsite working safe in FE, ACE and prisons.’

The webinar will be held at 5 pm on Monday 8 June 2020. Register here.

Unite and UCU health and safety lead officials will set out the joint trade unions’ expectations on the conduct of risk assessments and consultation around agreeing what a safe to any return to onsite working looks like.

We believe it is important for employers to hear clearly our expectations on what any safe return to work looks like before racing for a particular date.

Please find below further details. A live chat window will be open during the event however due to numbers please restrict your use to questions and be aware that employers will be in the same room.

Best regards

Andrew Harden

Head of further education

University and College Union


FE England joint trades unions open webinar: ‘Working together to make any return to onsite working safe in FE, ACE and prisons’

5 pm, Monday 8 June, 2020

Register here:

Unite and UCU health and safety lead officials will set out the joint trade unions’ expectations on the conduct of risk assessments and consultation around agreeing what a safe to any return to onsite working looks like.

  • Chair: Janet Farrar, UCU vice-president
  • Unite: Bud Hudspith, national H&S advisor
  • UCU: Alex Lancaster, bargaining and negations official (health and safety lead)

Due to high numbers of registrations to this webinar we will be asking for questions to be suggested in advance. We will try to keep an eye on the live chat box but this may be difficult answer live questions on the evening but we will do our best.

Registrations will close at 12 noon Monday 8 June.


This webinar is being hosted by UCU on behalf of the FE England joint trade unions and is open to trade union representatives from all of the FE trade unions together with college, adult and community education and prison education management representatives. Officials from the Association of Colleges, Holex, Department for Education and Ministry of Justice will also be invited.

As joint trade unions we recognise there are many challenges to any safe return to on site working, both on campus but also in the other learning environments that staff work in, including work based learning and prisons. We believe that only by working together can we address these adequately.

A key barrier to any return to onsite learning and working is the confidence of students and staff that it is safe to do so.

Some confidence issues will relate to matters outside of employers’ control and are covered by the first three of the joint trade unions five tests which can be found here. While largely outside of employers’ control, we regard these first three tests as valid for any return to occur.

The last two tests are solely within employers’ control. On these we believe student and staff confidence will only be achieved when managers and trade union representatives work together to agree what any safe return looks like. To assist those discussions at a local level the Joint Trade Unions have produced a guide for local discussion which has 5W’s and can be found here.

The FE joint trade unions welcome and invite representatives from all of the trade unions and employers to join this important webinar.

Yours sincerely

Andrew Harden
Leigh Powell

UCU head of further education
National official Unison



Advice on return to work in FE – Risk assessments

Dear Colleagues

We know that partial  return to the workplace is now one of the biggest issues you are facing. We recently sent you the UCU 5 step approach and we  copied you into the letter that had been sent to all Principals and CEOs by the Head of FE.

Colleges in the main are sticking to the 15th June as being the very earliest start date for some vulnerable learners and for some students requiring to complete practical work associated with  licence to practice qualifications . We should stress that the numbers of students and staff  returning to college premises should be kept to absolute minimums and only happen where we are persuaded that this is essential and safe  . We anticipate that most students and staff  will continue to learn and work  from home .

However,  even this partial return requires thorough risk assessments to be carried out by employers which clearly identify  Hazards and Control measures.

To support branches in monitoring the risk assessments carried out by your employer please find attached UCU guidance published today . This advice should allow you to compare the risk assessments produced by your employer with the considerations identified by the union and to challenge the employer where their Risk assessments fall short.  There is also a set of general questions that you should ask the employer which are set out at the end of the document .

It is absolutely essential that we do not allow members to return to any  workplace based on inadequate risk assessments so please use the attached as your template .

As always contact your regional officials for any further advice  you may need

Keep safe and well

Nick, Catriona and Philippa


SWIRE Online – Thursday April 23 – Edition 03


South West Industrial Relations Exchange Online – 23rd April 2020  – Edition 03

NB – You can share this information in social media using the short URL

National Advice and Guidance

All COVID 19 related issues can be found in one place at  ​

Regional Virtual Drop-in Meetings for Officers

Officers have said how much they get from discussing and listening to other experiences. Whilst physical meet ups are impossible, we can still use the technology for this. Look out in your INBOXES for regular invitations to online SWIRE meetings.  Your regional team is going to try and hold these on a regular basis, probably only for an hour a time and at different times in the week. The first one will be held on Tuesday 28th April at 4 PM and will last for a maximum of one hour. It will be sent to officers as invitation to a SKYPE meeting. If you can accept or decline the invitation when you receive it that would help us know how many participants to expect. ​

Furloughing (laying off staff)

Please note the recently published specific advice for our sectors.   ​See attachments

Officials have now been successful in ensuring that our positioning on this as set out below has been achieved in the vast majority of workplaces within our region

​a. should facilitate working at home wherever possible.

b. should agree to pay 100% of wages throughout the furlough period ​

c. should agree to pay all employer contributions to all occupational pension schemes (individuals will remain liable for their employee contribution – through PAYE) ​

d. should confirm in writing that individuals will suffer no detriment by agreeing to be furloughed including: ​continuity of employment, sick pay, maternity leave and pay, and redundancy rights, continued accrual of annual leave during furlough, access to progression, promotion, and training & development opportunities  ​

e. that employment is guaranteed following furlough ​

f. if on a variable hours or FTC contract, that wages during furlough will be calculated in a fair and transparent manner, taking into account any previous assurances of hours ​

We still await a couple of workplaces confirmation of 100 percent pay. For example, City of Bristol College initially proposed only committing to 100% pay for a period of one month, after which that would be reviewed. UCU made clear that this would be unacceptable, and the College has now revised their position and will be paying the full 100%. ​

Case Work ​

Morin is planning to present a brief online training session for new case workers at the Exeter University branch on handling case work. This might be a good opportunity for other branches to try and recruit new caseworkers as support required for individual case work is likely to increase in the coming weeks. If other branches are interested in Morin conducting an online session with them, then please do get in touch with her at

Please note – this is not intended to replace the usual Introduction to Casework course scheduled to take place in December at our office.  ​

Working From Home

Although we all hope that we will return to our normal workplaces ASAP as we move into the second month of lockdown we are hearing about members who are really feeling stressed and isolated. Please remind yourself of the UCU working from home  policy and our guidance on self care.  See attachments  ​

Anti-casualisation Work

UCU is seeking to ensure that this work still moves at a pace, albeit through online and virtual negotiations. In HE we are hearing some worrying whispers re employers looking to kick out casually employed staff first should a storm of cuts be proposed following this lockdown, and it is vital that all branches do all they can to make as many members as possible as secure as possible as soon as possible! ​

Extension of the Academic Year

​A number of universities have reported that due to the lockdown, extensions have been given to students to complete coursework and assessments.  Some institutions have a large number of clinical NHS degrees and additional training. Releases to NHS front-line roles and extensions to deadlines will also extend the academic year. This means that members will have to complete marking later and be available for (or arrange cover) for teaching and tutorials. This is on top of the work members have been doing at home to ensure students are taught and supported on line, teaching is converted to on line methods of delivery and preparations for next term and the next academic year are completed.

Members are rightly concerned that they will not be able to take their annual leave because management have agreed to extensions or increased deadlines, without consulting and negotiating on the effects they will have. We would like to establish what the position is in the South West and also across sectors, as we are sure there will be issues in FE and Adult Education as well. Please could branches report any concerns and information to ​

Annual Leave ​

We have seen a number of institutions attempt to change annual leave policies, without negotiation. This has ranged from not allowing any leave to be carried over, to not being able to take 3 weeks consecutive leave in July and August. ​UCU have always been clear that annual leave should be taken in year and management should not make it impossible for the full complement of annual leave to be taken. However, there will be circumstances where it is not possible to take leave and policies have been negotiated to reflect that.

If your management are trying to impose changes to policies or to custom and practice please tell us  ​

Organising Support

Please remember that during this difficult time it is important to let your members know what the latest developments in your branch are. It is also a good idea to ask members for their feedback and impressions. To this end I am always available to help with newsletters and communications. Officers are reminded that branches have access to their membership lists via a simple browser-based system called eServices. If you need this setting up, or training in it, please contact me.

​Keep safe everyone  ​

Best wishes

 Nick, Catriona, Philippa, Dave, Morin and Rebecca


SWIRE Online – Friday March 27 – Edition 02

South West Industrial Relations Exchange Online – Friday March 27 – Edition 02

Distribution: Officers of the South West and Extended Region

Working from Home and online teaching

We are receiving some messages from members anxious about their ability to deliver online. Please refer them to the national UCU guidance (link below) sent out from the regional office on Wednesday. Remember that your employer has a duty to support you and advise; you should not be left isolated. It might be also be a good idea to set up a WhatsApp group with colleagues delivering similar parts of the curriculum so that you can share ideas and experiences.

Staff Unable to Work from Home

Where staff are able to work from home, they should obviously be paid as normal. Where staff can’t work from home – due, for example, to the nature of their work – but are currently prevented from carrying out their work, UCU is obviously anxious that they remain in employment – and continue to be paid – during any period for which they are effectively ‘laid-off’ (we refuse to use the term ‘furloughed’). Clearer details of the Government’s Job Retention Scheme are emerging now, and all employers should have been waiting for that rather than rushing to push out communications saying that they will simply stop paying certain groups of staff where they believe that the nature of the contract allows them to.

One college decided to give all its part time AE tutors 2 weeks’ notice of dismissal …unbelievable . The UCU were all over this and the notice has been withdrawn.

If it helps the AOC has sent this to all its member colleges in regard to the staff retention scheme “Staff on the DfE helpline have already advised college finance directors that colleges will be eligible to apply for support on account of their private sector status.” This may be helpful when challenging colleges that are moving quickly to lay people off.

UCEA COVID 19 statement

You may be aware of a joint statement issued by UCEA on Tuesday and signed-up to by the four other HE unions nationally (Unison, Unite, GMB, and EIS) but not UCU.

This is a note to outline why UCU felt unable to sign-up to the joint statement.  The statement as proposed was too weak, and the final version remains so, as it fails to address three areas of concern for UCU, on which UCEA were not prepared to move:

The closure of all non-essential core face to face functions (in terms of teaching this had largely been done but libraries and other non-essential face to face functions were/are still operating;

A pause to negotiate and agree with trade unions arrangements for alternative ways of working including online and home working;

Agreement to ensure all staff working for /delivering services to universities continue to be paid and retained including casualised staff and those employed by contractors, where necessary making use of the government’s Covid-19 wage subsidy offer.


Whilst it is understandable that Institutions will try and ensure that staff do not save entitlements until later in the year it is equally unfair for them to force the front loading of holidays. Please refer to your contracts and policies and insist that they are adhered to and not arbitrarily ignored. Contact you officials if you need support re this.

Business as normal

The Swindon Colleges still insist on ploughing ahead with a merger despite our tying to halt it for the time being. Apparently, the Olympics can be postponed but not this!! Comment from member below representative of views

‘I’m sure that I am not the only one but with unprecedented crisis, caring and supporting my family which includes my wife who is a front line NHS worker working in Corvid wards. She has elderly grandparents and children at home as well as attempting to teach and support students. TUPE consultation is at the very bottom of my priorities. I think the college needs to take a reality check.’

City of Bristol College is currently refusing to pause a management restructure/redundancy process. Ploughing ahead with this in the context of the crisis is ridiculous, and the additional stress and anxiety this creates for those potentially facing redundancy is, in the union’s view not only unnecessary but also heartless.

Other employers are taking a much more humane approach though such as Bristol University who , after requests form UCU have paused their restructuring programme for Professional service staff,

Redundancy Consultations Paused

Cornwall College and South Devon have paused all redundancy consultations.

Casual and precarious staff

In the first edition of SWIROL, we shared some examples of good practice, where employers are providing assurances that, for example, hourly-paid teaching staff will continue to be paid for work that has been scheduled even if it doesn’t take place (through no fault of the lecturer). However, we still have a number of gaps in our information about what employers are doing to support casual and precariously-employed staff. Please keep feeding information to us via

Strike Pay Deductions

Exeter University have agreed to suspend all strike pay deductions until May and then deductions would be taken in May, June and July. UCU have requested that deductions are rescinded but have been told that within the Russell Group, very few were doing so. UCU will continue to press for no deductions to be made.

Prison Education Staff

Although the majority of Prison Education staff are no longer required to attend the workplace, we still have a number of issues we are trying to resolve with the employer and the Government. It is unclear whether Weston College will take advantage of the Government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and lay off their Agency Workers or simply lay them off, with no pay. UCU are pressing for the college to access the scheme and protect their agency staff. UCU has also produced guidance for Prison Education members if they are instructed to attend the workplace and this can be accessed here.

Video Conferencing

Further to Morin’s piece in SWIRE online’s first edition, distributed on Wednesday, and following updated legal advice we would like to give further clarification on her piece on Video Conferencing:

Individual members should be entitled to seek that a formal internal hearing is conducted in person rather than remotely. If an employer refuses then as a Trade Union we will express concern but given the unprecedented times we all are faced employers are being given leniency in this regard.

Whether an employer’s actions are unreasonable is ultimately up to an Employment Tribunal. We should however argue that refusing a member’s request for an in-person hearing would be unreasonable particularly if the sanction is punitive. This involves a balancing exercise. For example where a case is document heavy and complex the representative could  be significantly disadvantaged in putting forward the member’s case.

Additionally, If a member is disabled then there would be the additional considerations of reasonable adjustments and the member may want to request an in-person hearing, when it is safe to do so, as a reasonable adjustment.

We are now hearing of both good and bad practice but after UCU lobbying at least we are reaching agreements that allow for methodology of meetings to be taken on a case by case basis

Communicating with Members

Please remember at this time it is important for branch officers to keep in touch with their members to update them with the latest advice and to reassure them. I can see no reason why these communications cannot be shared with potential members to remind them the we are the organisation that has staff interests as our highest priority. Please encourage your members, where appropriate to share UCU’s communications with their colleagues and non-members and remind and encourage them to join before they need help.

If anyone needs help with communications please contact

Your Regional Team

TELEPHONE 01392 412525

SWIRE Online – March 25 2020

South West

Industrial Relations Exchange Online – Wednesday March 25 – Edition 01

Distribution: Officers of the South West and Extended Region, HE and FE

Dear Colleagues

Firstly, we hope you are keeping safe and well in these extraordinary times. This is the first edition of SWIREOL ( South West Industrial Relations Exchange Online ). The purpose is to keep you updated on a regular basis with best COVID 19 practice across the region plus from time to time shaming some of our institutions.

These newsletters are for local SW regional UCU news. For detailed  general guidance please keep checking the national UCU website on a daily basis. As this is to be the start of an exchange please feed in any  notable practice from your institutions to

The updates will be very brief to allow for versions across all formats. For more detailed information regarding any item contact  either Nick Catriona or Philippa directly  or if related to dealing with case work Morin. Dave has the responsibility for editing the news and Becca will ensure it gets out to all of you.

University of Bristol has a decent statement on Working From Home (WFH) and the challenges of childcare.

Working from home with young children or other caring responsibilities

“If you have young children at home because the schools are closed or have other caring responsibilities and are working at home, we know that you may be unable to commit to a full day of work. We understand that and thank you for your best efforts. Do what you can, ask for help and take care of your family.  Please talk to your line manager to agree a shared approach to your working practices over the coming weeks.”

Petroc one of the better statements re continued payment of HPLs

Petroc College in Devon told TES that it is paying casual staff for the hours they would have worked if the college was operating normally. It is also paying them full sick pay if they are in self-isolation.

The college’s director of human resources and organisational development, Sheena Murphy-Collett, said: “At Petroc, we value all of our workforce and the contribution they make to the success of the college. We are supporting the workforce during this unprecedented situation we find ourselves in and our part-time hourly paid staff, often referred to as casual staff, are being treated fairly and appropriately. If they are in self-isolation, we are paying them sick pay. If they are fit for work, we are paying them for the hours they would have worked if the college was operating normally.

“We have extended the sick pay entitlement for colleagues who ordinarily would only receive SSP [Statutory Sick Pay] within their first six months of employment.”

Precarious and casual

A number of institutions have agreed to pay their hourly paid, associate lecturers and casual staff for any scheduled teaching. Your institution may give them another name but these are staff who have no open ended contract and may have a schedule of work for the year, a guarantee of a number of hours or something similar to this. Some examples; Swindon College, Wiltshire College, Bridgwater and Taunton College, South Devon College, University of the West of England and Plymouth University are all paying these staff groups. There are others. Weymouth College has also given a commitment that variable hours HPLs will continue to be paid, based on their previous and currently planned hours.

Redundancy consultations have been suspended at South Devon College and Cornwall College.

Cornwall College have been able to close all of their sites by working with the Local Authority, families and other providers.

In terms of sick pay and recording sickness absence, Weston College have confirmed Covid-19 absence will not be included in sickness absence monitoring and South Devon College have suspended the use of the Bradford Factor. Petroc has also confirmed that coronavirus-related sickness absence will not be ‘counted’ towards triggering any formal sickness absence procedure.

Prison Ed

It wasn’t until yesterday that our Prison Education colleagues were finally told they would not be required to attend the workplace. Marianne Quick the Negotiating and Bargaining Officer covering Prison Education has been working tirelessly collating information, lobbying MP’s and negotiating with employers. The union had called for face-to-face provision to be stopped after members raised concerns about health and safety. A survey of prison education staff highlighted widespread concerns about a lack of basic handwashing facilities, classrooms not being cleaned between lessons and equipment being shared between prisoners and staff. Work will now continue to ensure these staff are still paid and the Government continues to pay colleges for the contracts.

Advice from Morin re Individual ​Casework

To Video Conference or Not?

With the Government’s emergency shutdown in response to Covid-19 and its advice about social distancing many of you will be thinking whether conducting a grievance, capability or disciplinary process via Skype, Zoom is advisable. To assist with this I have produced some information for you when advising members in this regard.

The first thing I would say is that it is ultimately up to the individual concerned. However, where the process is likely to lead to a severe sanction such as a Warning or Dismissal then our advice would be to have a face to face hearing when it is safe to do so which obviously means there would be a significant delay given the current pandemic crisis. The reasons for this are essentially three-fold:

1. You won’t get a second chance at it.

2. Conducting a disciplinary hearing, for example, via video conferencing would put both the individual member concerned and you as the representative at a disadvantage as you would not be able to properly gauge non-verbal communication.

3. Your union rep will be restricted with the amount of support that they can provide you as they will not be in the same room as you.

The individual member has the right to opt for a face to face hearing particularly when the sanction of the process is punitive. To not allow this would be unreasonable on the part of the employer. I do not envisage this being an issue but if you come across an employer who insists on going ahead via video conferencing against the individual’s wishes then I would suggest that you contact the regional office immediately at

NB: If an individual member does opt to go for a video conference then we shall support and represent them as best we can.


We are getting news from others in England that some managers are being instructed to  access online teaching and calling them ‘virtual walks ‘. Contact your official if any of  your institutions try this.

And Finally…





Bath Spa Teach Outs

For more information go to

Strike Up! Conversations 2020 schedule v5 Full PDF (print version)


UKs biggest ever university strikes

UK’s biggest ever university strikes as staff begin 14 days of walkouts on Thursday

UCU members at 74 universities will begin 14 days of strikes on Thursday (20 February) in the largest wave of strikes ever seen on UK campuses.

The full strike dates are:

Week one – Thursday 20 & Friday 21 February
Week two – Monday 24, Tuesday 25 & Wednesday 26 February
Week three – Monday 2, Tuesday 3, Wednesday 4 & Thursday 5 March
Week four – Monday 9, Tuesday 10, Wednesday 11, Thursday 12 & Friday 13 March

The disputes centre on the sustainability of the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) and rising costs for members, and on universities’ failure to make significant improvements on pay, equality, casualisation and workloads.

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UCU members will strike at the following locations in the South West

Bath Spa

Picket locations/times, teach outs/rallies

Newton Park, Newton St Loe, Bath, BA2 9BD, 8am to 12pm on every strike day

Locksbrook Campus, Locksbrook Road, Bath, BA1 3EL, 8am to 12pm on every strike day

Corsham Court, Corsham Court, Church St, Wiltshire, Corsham SN13 0BZ, 8am to 12pm on every strike day

1st teach-out at The Globe on the first strike day, Thursday 20th, at 1-3pm.
Pennyquick, Newton St Loe, Bath BA2 9BB

Subsequent teach outs still being arranged.


Picket locations/times, teach outs/rallies

Virgil Building Manvers Street 8-11 am
5 Manvers St, Bath BA1 1JQ

Main Entrance 7:30-9:30 am
Claverton Down, Bath BA2 7AY

North Road 7:30-9:30 am

South Building 7:30-11:30 am


Picket locations/times, teach outs/rallies

Streatham Drive / Stocker Road Junction Entrance (EX4 4PX), 8-10am.
Prince of Wales Rd Entrance (EX4 4SB), 8-10am.
Thornlea Entrance, New North Rd (Exeter EX4 4LA), 8-10am.
St Luke’s Entrance, Magdelene Rd (Exeter EX1 2LU), 8-10am.
Penryn Site, Main gate (Penryn TR10 9FE).


Picket locations/times, teach outs/rallies

Main entrance on Woodland Road, 8:30am
Main Entrance on Priory Road, 8:30 am

At 10.30am on Thursday, 20 February 2020 UCU members will gather outside the Victoria Rooms for a rally before marching to College Green.