EU & Brexit: Statement by UCU General Secretary

On Mon 27 June, Sally Hunt, UCU General Secretary, issued the following statement:

Dear colleague
Members will have differing views on the result of last Thursday’s referendum on EU membership.

However what is not in doubt is that the UK now faces a period of considerable economic and political uncertainty. That uncertainty extends into the places where UCU members work in three main ways.

First, in practical concerns about the loss of funding for projects within or related to universities and colleges supported by the European Union.

Second, in the impact of the referendum result upon government policy. For example, there is now speculation that the apprenticeship levy from which many colleges hoped to benefit may be postponed or scrapped.

Third, in a sector with a highly international workforce which itself teaches a diverse student body, the impact upon staff and students themselves.

I have therefore this morning written to the UK secretary of state with responsibility for further and higher education and UCU will be making contact too with the devolved administrations seeking some clarity in these three areas on behalf of members.

The referendum campaign has produced a rising tide of racism and hostility to migrant communities, as well as a worrying trend of anti-intellectualism (‘who needs experts?’ and so on). In the face of this universities and colleges have a vital role to play in fighting racism and intolerance and in continuing to promote the benefits of education to both the individual and society as a whole. In short we must stand up for our staff and students and celebrate education for all rather than hide away until the storm passes.

UCU for its part will continue to pursue these values  in line with a statement agreed by the National Executive Committee last Friday which you can read here.

Best regards

Sally Hunt
UCU general secretary

Strike, 14th June

Our branch will be on strike on June 14.

Pickets will primarily be at Old College from 9-11am on June 14, where
there will be a meeting of the influential Central Management Group. If
you plan to picket or would like to volunteer to be a picket captain,
please email Alternatively, on June 14, just come to the
union office at 12 Buccleuch Street at 8:45am to find where available
picket locations are.

A social event with light food will be follow at 11am-1pm (location to be
confirmed). Even if you aren’t available for picketing, feel free to stop
by and say hello to fellow members. This will also be a forum for people
to discuss anything they wish to raise.

The issues are pay, casualisation, and the gender pay gap. More
information can be found at

You are NOT legally required to inform your line manager about your plans
for strike action before striking, and we recommend you do not. However,
you must answer truthfully if asked by your line manager after the fact.

We appreciate that June 14 is very soon. This is the first time that UCU
branches are striking on different dates at different universities across
the country. The national leadership decided that in the current
industrial action, each branch should select a day in June or July that
would be most effective locally. At this stage in the industrial dispute,
the branch committee was unwilling to call a strike on a day when a small
number of members would be much more strongly affected than the rest of
us, such as the graduation day for a particular school. Within this
constraint, we believe that June 14 is the most effective strike date in
the next two months.

We were legally obliged to wait until UCU nationally had officially
notified the University before issuing this notice to members.
Unfortunately this has led to you hearing both from both Sally Hunt and
UoE in advance of our notice, for which we apologise.

Guidance on Working to Contract

Brief guidance on Working to Contract issues.  This is taken from item 24 on the FAQ page:

What should I tell my employer if they ask if I am participating in action relating to working to contract and to the maximum 37-hour week?

You should wait until you are asked by your manager or a person in authority whether you are participating in ‘action short of a strike’ and then answer as follows:

 Dear [Name],

As you will be aware, following a recent ballot, UCU is calling on its members to take continuous action short of strike from 27 May 2016. This is to take the form of working to contract. I am writing to inform you that I shall be working the hours stipulated in my contract and no more. Where my contract is silent on the hours I am expected to work, I will work no more than a total of 35 hours per week, or my pro rata equivalent to take account of my personal circumstances and the length of the normal working week in question. In addition, I will perform no additional voluntary duties, such as out of hours cover, or covering for colleagues, unless this is a contractual requirement, nor will I set and mark work beyond that which I am contractually obliged to set and/or mark, nor will I attend meetings where attendance is voluntary. I will not undertake duties that breach the University’s health and safety and I will work strictly in accordance with the university’s policies or procedures having contractual force.

As I will therefore complete my contractual duties on a weekly basis and in any one week I will not expect the University to make any deductions from my salary save in respect of any strike action which I might take. I will raise a formal grievance if I am deducted pay whilst I am working in accordance with my contract.

Messages of Support

youareunionBoth locally and nationally, we’ve received a number of messages of support for our industrial action, which we share below.

On behalf of Unite Scotland can you please pass on our message of solidarity to all your members involved in this action. Your fight is our fight and we will do all we can to support UCU in trying to resolve this dispute.

In solidarity, Pat Rafferty, Regional Secretary Scotland


Best wishes and solidarity with your industrial action

Arthur West Secretary, Kilmarnock and Loudoun Trades Union Council



wishing you success in your struggle over the next few days and sending support and solidarity.

Yours sororially, Pauline Rourke, Chair, CWU Scottish Political Forum


Dear Comrades

Greetings of solidarity and support in your fight for decent pay and the removal of the gender pay gap in higher education from the Musician’s Union in Scotland.

Best wishes, Sheena


I would like to express the solidarity of the UNISON membership here for your action on Wednesday and Thursday. UNISON is due to consult its members soon on the current pay offer.

Best Wishes,  Steve McLellan, Branch Secretary, Unison (Napier)


The EIS sends a message of solidarity to our colleagues in the UCU taking strike action today and tomorrow.

The EIS shares the aims of the dispute and it wishes the UCU well with its industrial action.

Yours fraternally, David Belsey, National Officer


I am writing to formally offer support and good will from UNISON Scotland with your industrial action.   The employers need to up their pay offer and recognise the important role that University staff play.

Best wishes, Emma


Hi folks

On behalf of the Executive Committee of Dumfries & Galloway Local Association of the EIS and of Dumfries Trades Union Council, I’m passing on our best wishes for a strongly supported strike over the next 2 days and a successful outcome to your campaign.

John Dennis, Secretary  of Dumfries & Galloway  LA of the EIS and Secretary of Dumfries TUC


To all UCU members involved in strike action

I am writing on behalf of Aberdeen Trades Union Council to send a message of solidarity and support to all the UCU members in Higher Education who are taking strike action on 25th and 26th May. We wish you all the best.

In solidarity and best wishes for a successful resolution to your action.

Kate Ramsden, President ATUC


Solidarity greetings from Edinburgh College EIS branch to all UCU strikers in your fight for equal pay, decent contracts and justice for all. I’ll pass on details of the picket lines. Please pass on this message of

Kind regards, Penny Gower, EIS branch secretary, Edinburgh College