Advice regarding industrial action by UCU March 2011 and beyond.

Advice to Unite members, stewards and representatives regarding industrial action by UCU March 2011 and beyond.

Unite staff working in Higher Education may be aware that UCU members have voted for industrial action and other action short of strike. The other academic union in Scotland, EIS, has decided to ballot staff but EIS members are currently not taking dispute action. Unite supports UCU members in dispute but for legal reasons the union is constrained in what Unite members can and cannot do. Unite advice to Higher Education members are that they are not in dispute and members should continue to attend their place of work and work normally.

On the question of picket lines, the advice is that members should not join the picket lines, as this could give the perception that Unite members are involved in the dispute or their presence could be used towards numbers of pickets thereby exceeding the statutory limits on pickets and directly or indirectly implicating Unite union members in the industrial action.

Members are free of course to engage in discussions with UCU members who are picketing or speak or not to speak to pickets but are advised not to take part in any action themselves. Members wishing to discuss matters with pickets are requested to do this away from any picket lines to avoid any implication in the action.

Unite representatives should not meet with university management on local issues but to postpone these to alternative dates whilst the UCU action is in place.

Consideration on not attending local events will depend on the nature of the events and whether such action would be perceived as engaging in a dispute or action connected to a dispute. Unite preferred option is that events should moved by mutual agreement with the support of all unions and management. If this is not possible in most circumstances the advice to Unite representatives will be to continue to work normally.

As you may know HE staff unions, including Unite, are on record requesting an eventual settlement for this pay round from UCEA. UCEA without Unite prompting has advised higher education unions to make arrangements to pay the 0.4% on offer.

If any member or representative has a particular problem in connection with the UCU dispute they should contact their local union office identifying the nature of the problem.
Yours sincerely
Mike Robinson
National Officer Education

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