FAQs for staff in relation to Industrial Action

FAQs For Staff In Relation To Industrial Action

Queen’s is one of 61 universities whose UCU members have voted to support strike action in relation to potential changes to the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS).

When will strike action take place?

Strike action took place on:
Week 1 – Thursday 22, Friday, 23 February 2018
Week 2 – Monday 26, Tuesday 27, Wednesday, 28 February 2018
Week 3 – Monday 5, Tuesday 6, Wednesday 7, Thursday, 8 March 2018
Week 4 – Monday 12, Tuesday 13, Wednesday 14, Thursday, 15 March 2018

What is the strike about?

UCU have voted to take industrial action in relation to proposed changes to the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS), a national pension scheme. Responsibility for resolving the dispute lies with members of the Joint Negotiating Committee (UUK, who represent the sector employers, and the UCU who represent employees).

The Finance Directorate has been providing updates to members of USS in relation to the proposed changes. Further details are available on the Finance Directorate website

Information is also available on Universities UK website.  

How might the strike affect students?

We are making every effort to ensure that students are not adversely affected and are closely monitoring the impact of the industrial action. We expect the impact of the action to vary across the University and to be very limited in some areas.

If activities are, or have been, cancelled, the University will make every reasonable effort to mitigate the impact, for example through delivering content by an alternative means or attempting to recover the activity at a later date. The University will ensure that any disruption caused by the strike is taken into consideration when evaluating student performance on modules and degree programmes.

Schools will be in direct contact with affected students when the full impact of the industrial action is known.

Further details are available in FAQs for students: http://www.qub.ac.uk/sites/Students/studentfaqs/

Will pay be deducted if staff take strike action?

For those staff who do take strike action, one day’s pay will be withheld, for each day of strike action, on the basis of 1/365th of an employee’s salary for staff in Grade 6 and above. For staff in Grades 1-5 who participate in strike action, pay will be withheld on the basis of 1/261st of your salary. This will be calculated on a pro-rata basis for part-time staff.

These rates are based on:

  • Grades 1-5: working a five-day week, ie 261 days and their pay being apportioned over those 261 days
  • Grades 6 above: working the hours required to do the job. In light of the Supreme Court ruling last year in Hartley versus King Edward VI College, pay for staff with this type of contract has to be apportioned over the entire year, i.e. 365 days

How will the University know if staff have taken part in strike action?

The University recognises and appreciates that the vast majority of staff will not take strike action. However, as a member of staff who is not in UCU or another union could still participate in the strike action, and as the University does not know who is in a trade union, all staff are required to confirm whether they did, or did not, participate in each period of discontinuous strike action by completing a pro-forma.

How will the strike affect staff on Tier 2 visas?

Strike action is treated as unauthorised and unpaid leave.  A maximum limit of four weeks unpaid leave in a calendar year applies to those sponsored under Tier 2.   Where the limit is exceeded the University must withdraw sponsorship. Staff on Tier 2 visas who participate in strike action could put their sponsored status at risk if they exceed the four week maximum.
The limit applies to all unpaid leave so an employee who has taken unpaid leave for other reasons could have a problem with exceeding the limit if strike days are added to the other absences.
If you have any queries in relation to this, please contact Ray McEvoy, r.mcevoy@qub.ac.uk

Further Information

Further information on USS is available on Universities UK website, including a USS Pensions Five Questions document for staff. 

If you have any other queries in relation to industrial action, please contact the HR Directorate.