Industrial Action Bulletin (ASOS) Action Short of a Strike
We are writing to clarify further how ASOS is intended to work during this initial phase of industrial action following new information from UCU as well as further negotiations with local management.
The HEC has opted for escalating ASOS. In the first instance, we are being asked to work to contract: this means that staff carry out the key functions of their roles but do not undertake voluntary duties, and staff should limit their working hours to a reasonable number which, according to the Framework Agreement, for staff in pre-92 universities, the union considers to be a nominal 37 hours per week.
Escalating ASOS is part of UCU’s ‘Reclaim Your Time’ strategy, that is especially relevant in the post-92 sector where contracts mandate more clearly set working hours. Even so, across the sector, it will prepare the ground for an escalation of ASOS when the HEC meets on December 8, 2021. Members are being asked to push back against unreasonable workload demands by management. Reports of excessive workload will be collated by UCU to demonstrate how much free work staff are expected to perform and for falling wages. UCU is cognizant of the fact that this may create workload for members as well as managers, but demonstrating the amount of overwork in the system that staff must perform in what should be their personal time is a vital part of the Four Fights campaign and the campaign to protect staff wellbeing.
Responding to a request to reschedule work
We have been reassured by management that they respect our right to take industrial action, and they agree that asking staff to do work for which they were not paid would not be consistent with the VC’s commitment to “maintaining collegiality and respect for each other” in the context of industrial action – a commitment shared by LUCU. Therefore, members should not routinely expect to receive requests to replace work lost to strike days.
However, the University may request that assessments submitted on a strike day be marked. The current terms of ASOS allow them to make this request. Management have agreed with LUCU that this should happen only if the staff member believes this will not materially add to their workload. If the colleague believes the work related to assessment cannot be accommodated in their current workload, they should report this to their Dean, who will be prepared to adjust their workload to facilitate this. The adjustment to the colleague’s workload should be meaningful. This is consistent with UCU’s current guidance for ASOS whereby members can ask what work they “should not do to so as to compensate you for time spent on replacement activities”.
If you receive a request related to work impacted by the strike action, you may use this template (see here for the template and here for the national guidance) to demonstrate to your manager: how much time the task you are being asked to do will take you to complete and report how many hours above 37 (the notional working week according to the Framework Agreement) you would need to work if you were to undertake the task without compensation. Please copy LUCU into the correspondence with your manager when negotiating on workload. If you would like additional support in addressing how workload will be managed in relation to such requests, please contact UCU@lboro.ac.uk.