Picketing Day 1

On Monday, we will be taking strike action over our pensions, our pay, and our working conditions. No one in UCU is undertaking this action lightly. Our branch president, Sam Marsh, and vice-president, Robyn Orfitelli, are part of UCU’s national negotiating teams and have been working tirelessly to try to find solutions with the employers’ representatives. We deeply regret that the employers have so far been unwilling to make serious efforts to resolve these disputes.

Since it seems very likely that the action next week is going ahead, we want to ensure that as many of you as possible are able to participate. The information below covers what we hope is useful and accessible information about events that will be taking place this week. As ever, if you have any questions about any of this information, please email us and we will do our very best to get back to you as soon as we can. We also have made an overall SUCU industrial action guidance document which covers all of this information in one place, as well as a version of this document which is tailored for PGRs and GTAs.


We’d like to ask all members to consider joining a picket line on as many days of the strike action as possible. Picketing is the visible symbol of a strike; it is the way in which we make visible what the withdrawal of our labour looks like. Our pickets in 2018 were sites of fun, creativity, music and fancy-dress and home baking and banners and conversations that it’s impossible to have in any other context. Please join us.

A picket line is a group of striking workers who stand near the entrance to their workplace and ask fellow union members not to cross. UCU’s guidance on picketing makes explicit that no one on a picket line should use threatening, abusive or intimidatory language or behaviour and we want to emphasise this as strongly as we can. You can ask people whether they will support the strike and offer them further information while you’re picketing but it’s hugely important that you respect people who don’t want to engage with the picketers and you must not block anyone’s access to work. Picketing should be fun! Please read the full guidance document before you join a picket.

All pickets need a ‘lead picket’, who will be responsible for collecting placards, armbands and flyers about the dispute from our office on 2 Hounsfield Road from 7.30am on each day of the strike action. If you don’t know who the lead picket from your building is, don’t worry – just come along to the office and we’ll let you know and talk it through. If you have any problems on a picket, the lead picket should call the picket supervisor’s mobile phone number and someone will be there within minutes.

Our pickets will run between 7.30 and 11.30am, but please do take a break at any point if you need to do so. You can picket where you like – many of our members like to picket the buildings they work in but this is not obligatory and we might ask people to attend pickets that have lower numbers on them during the day, or to relieve other picketers who need a break.

If you’re picketing, you can collect a free sandwich from John’s Van every day of the strike action to provide vital sustenance. And please dress up as warmly as possible!

You can use toilets at nearly cafes and the Students’ Union while you’re picketing. There’s more information on how to make picketing more accessible in our guidance document here.

Other events

On Monday there will also be a rally at 11.45am at Firth Court, with our SU, who have declared their support for our fight. Please come along to that as well if you can – the bigger the crowds, the more obvious our resistance to the erosion of our terms and conditions and the more likely it is that we will be able to negotiate productively with our local management.

We’re running a teach out on every day of the action. The teach outs in 2018 were a truly transformative space and the programme this year is just as varied and exciting. We’re so grateful to all the teach out presenters for agreeing to speak. Here is the Week 1 programme – please come along and ask questions, learn something and enjoy the possibilities of learning in a radical space.

Keeping in touch

Many of you use work email as your contact address for UCU and for that reason we ask that you check it periodically when you’re on strike specifically to see any email updates from us – please ignore the rest of your work email while you’re taking action. You can also follow us on twitter (or just read our twitter feed if you don’t have an account yourself) and on Facebook. Please get in touch with any problems, questions or concerns that you have – we know this is hard and we’re here to support you.