26 / 09 / 18

Strike Action by University Staff in Support of a Campaign Concerning Pensions

During February and March 2018, the University and College Union (UCU) asked members to take industrial action in support of a campaign concerning pensions. Newcastle University was one of 65 universities affected by the strikes, which was in response to proposed changes to the USS pension scheme.

On 13 April, the Vice Chancellor was pleased to announce that UCU members had voted in favour of a proposal, resulting in the suspension of any further planned industrial action.

Whilst many parts of the University were unaffected, some students had a number of sessions cancelled as a result of the strike action. Due to the impact of lost teaching time, Senate, at its meeting on 20 March, formally agreed that the industrial action constitutes an emergency situation and also approved the University’s emergency guidance (PDF: 529KB). This Guidance covers the arrangements for programme delivery and assessment where disruption has occurred and for the examination and assessment period.

Dates of the industrial action

Communications to students

In addition to the Open Forum on Friday 16 February, the Vice-Chancellor and President, Professor Day and Academic Registrar, Mrs Lesley Braiden, have sent emails to all students to update you on the strike action and the steps the University is taking.

Mitigation of Impact

Academic Schools have assessed, in detail the impact of the industrial action on modules and programmes. Your Head of School will keep you updated about any changes or information of relevance.

Use of funds resulting from pay withheld from staff who participated in strike action

The Students’ Union (NUSU), as the representative body for our students, was consulted about how best to use the pay withheld from staff members involved in the recent strike action. As in previous years, the discussion about this issue, reflected the principle that the money should be reinvested in the student experience and in activities or initiatives that would directly benefit students.  The Students’ Union put forward a number of proposals which were agreed by the University and are now being implemented as summarised below:

  • additional funding to enhance the NUSU ‘affordability agenda’ (including subsidised food and drinks for all students at key campus outlets, during the exam revision period)
  • free gown hire for all students at affected campuses graduating at July and December 2018 congregations
  • extra funding for mental health and counselling services to support all students
  • additional funding provided to NUSU for the refurbishment of some areas in the Students’ Union Building and replacement of equipment, which will be of benefit to all students using the services

These proposals were approved, with the aim of supporting both students graduating this year as well as those continuing their studies at Newcastle University.

Personal Extenuating Circumstances (PECs)

If you consider that the strike action has affected your ability to submit work for particular assessment and you require a specific adjustment, the online Personal Extenuating Circumstances (PEC) system enables you to request that these circumstances be taken into account at the end of the Semester. Please do not submit PEC forms just in case you think you might be affected, but use this process only for definite and specific instances individual to you.

It will be possible for you to submit a single PEC in respect of the overall impact on you of the strike action in advance of your School’s published PEC deadline at the end of Semester 2. Once again, you should only do this if there has been a definite and specific impact on you.

Further information on applying for a PEC as a result of strike action.

Updated on 14 May 2018.