If agreement cannot be reached in the current pay round HEIs face industrial action from a range of staff commencing with a strike on 31 October. Although the turnout at the ballots was low, the vote in favour of strike action from UCU, Unite and Unison members and a vote from UCU members for action short of a strike (ASOS) HEIs carries the potential for serious disruption to some institutions. Whilst UCEA continues to deal with the negotiations on a national basis, institutions should prepare their own strategy as a matter of urgency.
It is essential to decide your strategic approach – will you wish to pursue an injunction if that option is available or would you prefer to adopt a less high profile approach? Which strategy you adopt will depend upon your individual HEI, your relationship with the unions and, bearing in militancy of your staff, the likely disruption of strike action and ASOS.
Having decided your overall strategy we recommend you take the following steps;
- Put together an action plan to deal with both strike action and ASOS – we know a number of institutions have a standing committee for dealing with industrial action but it is worth refreshing your action plan to take account of the current circumstances;
- Scrutinise the notifications received from the unions to determine whether there may be any deficiencies in these;
- Consider your strategy concerning withholding pay in the event of ASOS;
- Continue to communicate with your staff in order to minimise the number of staff who will participate in the industrial action;
- Continue your communications more generally (particularly with students) over the pay offer made and the package that staff receive;
- Take legal advice as appropriate.