UCU industrial action to take place in February and March

The national University and College Union (UCU) has announced plans for nationwide industrial action between February and March 2023, including strike and action short of strike (descriptions below), which may affect your studies.

The action is taking place over a dispute about pay and pensions. At UCL, staff will be striking alongside a period of continuous ’action short of strike’ (ASoS). UCU has met all the legal requirements for calling lawful industrial action. Not all UCL staff are members of the union.     

UCL will try to minimise the disruption to your learning as much as possible, and remember, many staff will not be on strike.

It is important to note that you will not be assessed on any material that has not been taught as a result of strike action.  

You can find out more about what this means for you below. 

When will the industrial action take place?  

The first day of strike action will take place on Wednesday 1 February, followed by a further discontinous 17 days. 

  • Week one: Wednesday 1 February
  • Week two: Thursday 9 February, Friday 10 February
  • Week three: Tuesday 14 February, Wednesday 15 February, Thursday 16 February
  • Week four: Tuesday 21 February, Wednesday 22 February, Thursday 23 February
  • Week five: Monday 27 February, Tuesday 28 February, Wednesday 1 March, Thursday 2 March
  • Week six: Thursday 16 March, Friday 17 March
  • Week seven: Monday 20 March, Tuesday 21 March, Wednesday 22 March

Action short of strike continues to run until no later than 20 April 2023.    

Important: In addition to university staff, a number of other industries are taking part in strike action on the 1 February which also may affect your teaching, find out more.  

Industrial action usually happens when a dispute in the workplace can’t be resolved through negotiation. Industrial action is when workers:  

go on strike
take other action, like refusing to do overtime (known as ’action short of a strike’) 

Industrial action is ’official’ if it is formally backed by a trade union and members of that union are taking part in it, such as UCU.  

Strike action is when staff refuse to work. At universities, this includes not doing any work-related activity, such as teaching students, marking coursework, undertaking research, attending meetings, sending emails related to work and carrying out administrative tasks. It also includes not preparing for work scheduled after the member returns from strike.     

Striking staff may create a picket line by standing outside their workplace to tell people why they are taking part in industrial action, and they might ask you not to cross the line.  

Action short of strike is when staff take other action, such as limiting some work-related activities. UCU has confirmed that their planned action short of strike will consist of staff only working their contracted hours and duties and not volunteering to do more; not rescheduling classes and lectures cancelled due to strike action, not covering for absent colleagues, and removing uploaded materials related to, and/or not sharing materials related to, lectures or classes that will be or have been cancelled as a result of strike action.     

What does this mean for me?  

It is difficult to predict the impact of this period of industrial action because not all UCL staff will be on strike.  The impact of strikes will vary for students, with different levels of engagement from departments across the institution. 

On the strike days, your classes and lectures could be cancelled. You may also find that libraries, offices and support services are closed or not fully staffed, and so opening times and services might change at short notice. When you are on campus, you may see picket lines made up of striking staff outside UCL buildings. They may be handing out information and they may ask you not to cross their picket line.      

Striking staff on picket lines are not allowed to prevent students or any staff who are not taking part in the strike from coming onto campus or entering any UCL buildings. Although picket lines can sometimes appear intimidating, it is important to remember that the staff on strike have no grievance with you, their students, and they will fully respect your right to go about your business as usual.  

If you feel at all intimidated by picketers, please inform UCL Security by calling 222 from a UCL landline phone or +44 (0)20 7679 2222 from a mobile.    

You can also contact UCL’s Security team at the touch of a button by downloading UCL’s Safezone app - find out more.   

If you experience any inappropriate behaviour, please visit  Report and Support  to report this.     

How can you find out whether your classes are affected?  

It is difficult for us to predict what will happen on a strike day because striking staff do not have to tell UCL in advance of their intention to strike. Your department will do everything possible to inform you about changes to the teaching schedule through the usual channels, i.e., email and Moodle.     

Throughout the period of action, you should:     

  • Keep a close eye on your UCL emails and look out for Moodle page announcements.  
  • Stay informed by following the links in this update and looking out for announcements in the media.     

What support is available if I miss teaching due to industrial action?   

UCL will try to minimise the disruption to your learning as much as possible, and remember, many staff will not be on strike. It is important to note that you will not be assessed on any material that has not been taught as a result of strike action.   

We are working with departments to ensure adequate support is made available for you to meet your learning outcomes where your teaching is affected by industrial action.  

If you believe the mitigations provided have not been sufficient to meet your learning outcomes, you can let us know by making use of UCL’s  Student Complaints Procedure.  

Do striking staff get paid? 

Staff taking part in strike action do not get paid for the days when they are on strike. Staff taking part in action short of strike are paid as usual unless they fail to undertake specific contractual duties that are part of teaching, such as setting, marking, and returning assessments.  

What happens to unpaid salaries?  

Funds from strike action in 2021 and 2022 have been, and will continue, to be reinvested into schemes which support students who are in unexpected financial need.

Funds from the upcoming strike action will be put into Students’ Union UCL’s  Sarah Douglas Hardship Fund.  

How is UCL tackling key issues?  

We recognise that the current economic and geo-political environment means that these are exceptionally challenging times for our sector, for UCL and for our community. We are committed to driving improvements in each of the areas raised in the ballots and working constructively and collaboratively with our trade union partners.   

We are taking action on a number of key issues including staff pay, pensions, job security, workload, pay gap and equality. For more information on how we are supporting our community please see the UCL  

  • University College London, Gower Street, London, WC1E 6BT (0) 20 7679 2000