The University & College Union, the main trade union that represents academic colleagues at Liverpool Hope University, has given formal notice that they will be encouraging their members to participate in industrial action, including both full strike action and action short of strike.
The University has recieved a range of queries related to the current Industrial Action. Please read the Response to Student Queries section for the latest update.
About the Strike
1. What is the difference between Strike Action and Action Short of a Strike?
Strike action is generally a full stoppage of work, which means that academic staff may not deliver teaching for which they are timetabled.
Action short of strike (ASOS) can vary. UCU have indicated that this is likely to include: working to contract; not covering for absent colleagues; not rescheduling lectures or classes cancelled due to strike action; not sharing materials relating to lectures or classes cancelled as a result of strike action; not undertaking any voluntary activities; and a marking and assessment boycott.
2. Why are staff striking?
3. Why don’t staff have to tell the University in advance if they are taking action?
Legally, staff are not obliged to inform the University in advance if they plan to take industrial action, though we reserve the right to request this information to support planning and advance notifications to students of any cancellations and alternatives. Most staff electing to take action want to avoid any inconvenience to students and so will do their utmost to make any change to their usual commitments known.
4. What will Hope do with the pay that has been withheld from members of staff who are on strike?
All withheld pay will be allocated to activities that support students affected by the strikes and we will continue to allocate resources over the course of the next few months as the work to mitigate the industrial action continues.
5. Will I have to cross a picket line?
If industrial action takes place then we would expect there to be picket lines at some entrances to our campuses. A person who decides to cross a picket line must be allowed to do so (including union members). The picket line must be carried out peacefully and must not obstruct entrances, create nuisance for neighbouring properties or trespass on private property.
The unions are responsible for ensuring any pickets are briefed with regards to the how peaceful picketing must be conducted. The law requires picketing to be peaceful “for the purpose of obtaining or communicating information or peacefully persuading a person to work or not to work.” The pickets can only be those who work for the University and we believe pickets will respect your right to enter the campus. Failure to do so can potentially result in both disciplinary action and civil or criminal action against any individual.
About teaching and assessment
6. Should I attend for my lectures, seminars and tutorials?
Yes, you should continue to come to the University on the assumption that teaching sessions will take place. Where we know in advance that sessions will not be happening then we commit to letting you know as early as possible. Individual lecturers will make their own decision as to whether to be on strike or not. Just because one lecturer in a department or school is on strike does not mean that they all are.
7. Will there be changes to my teaching after the strike days?
If there are any changes to your planned timetable, these will be in order to prioritise the delivery of content, missed when classes were cancelled. You will be notified of changes by your School/Department.
8. Will the content of my assessments or exams change?
We will ensure that assessments and exam papers only reflect content that we know has been delivered to students, whether through the rearrangement of teaching activities or appropriate alternatives in term 2 or early in term 3.
9. My assignment is due on a strike day – should I submit it?
Please submit your assessments by their due date in the usual way
10. Will my assessed work be marked?
You can continue to expect the timely return of assessed work. You will be informed via your School or Department if there is any delay in providing feedback to them on assessed work or in marking exam papers.
11. How will Hope ensure that my academic outcome for the year is not negatively affected?
Where significant changes have needed to be made to a course, these will be considered at each of the Assessment, Progression and Award Boards (APABs), alongside the marks for each of the students on the course. This is part of the work to protect graduate outcomes for all students, with the APABs evaluating the impact and effectiveness of all mitigation provided to ensure fair and equitable outcomes for all students.
The APABs are enabled to adjust/scale marks for the cohort on the course, according to data that exists for previous years – ensuring that the impact of any disruption to teaching/assessments is accounted for
12. Can individual students make applications for consideration of mitigating circumstances?
We will seek to reschedule teaching cancelled due to strike action, or provide alternative means of delivering course content wherever feasible so that academic progression is not impacted. Where we have been able to re-schedule teaching or put alternative provision in place, students are expected to engage with these activities. Whilst acknowledging that some students will seek to express solidarity with staff during the action, a decision not to engage with these replacement activities will not be considered as mitigating circumstances. Assessments or examinations be adjusted in these instances.
If you feel that the strike has had a significant impact upon your ability to study or complete assessed work, it will be possible to submit a case for consideration of mitigating circumstances to your academic school/department in the usual way. You will, however, need to show clearly how the strike has had a disproportionate impact upon your ability to study or complete assessments, given that your tutor group or wider cohort is likely to have been similarly affected.
Where a school/department is aware that a specific group has been particularly badly affected, it may choose to make a case for consideration of mitigating circumstances on behalf of that group and will share this information with you in order that you need not prepare an individual case (see Question 11 above). Any evidence you present will in support for a case for consideration of mitigating circumstances will be cross-referenced with records within departments of arrangements made to deliver or replace teaching activities that were cancelled due to industrial action.
13. Can I swap seminars if my seminar leader is striking but another member of staff teaching the same course isn't?
Each teaching venue is timetabled based on the planned student numbers for each class and it may not be possible to accommodate additional numbers safely in an existing booking. If your academic department is able to identify alternative larger venues locally or through central timetabling, they may feel able to support you moving seminars. This is at the discretion of Schools/Departments, who will be keeping records of all the teaching that needs to be delivered to ensure that re-scheduling or appropriate steps are in place to enable you to continue to progress.
14. Will I get some of my fees back for teaching cancelled as a consequence of industrial action?
Academic departments will be supported to identify alternative ways to ensure required learning outcomes can be delivered if industrial action impacts the delivery of their usual teaching timetable. This may include: re-scheduling some teaching in the early part of the Lent term where feasible; the involvement of alternative staff in delivery of some material and the use of lecture capture where there is content appropriate for the relevant programme of study. The University expects to be able to ensure that the necessary material can be delivered across its academic programmes. For this reason, it is not anticipated that refunds would need to be made.
For international students
15. I’m a Study Abroad/Exchange student; what impact will the industrial action have on me?
It is expected that impact should be minimal. Students will be able to take the modules they elected to study through planned or alternative means, undertake any associated assessment, and have grades confirmed in line with expected schedules. Please discuss any concerns you may have with your department. Additional support is available from the International Hub.
16. I am a Tier 4 visa holder. Will the industrial action affect my attendance record and visa?
Your attendance record should not be negatively impacted where there is industrial action by staff in your academic department. Departments will record the monitoring point as an authorised absence with a note to say that this is due to industrial action. This will not be added to the list of missed monitoring points that your department sends to Student Records Management at the end of the term. This should, therefore, not have an impact on your visa.
17. What support has the University put in place?
We realise this is a difficult and uncertain time and would like to highlight resources available to support you, if needed. This includes our writing mentors and study skills workshops, My Careers Centre and Moodle. We are putting additional resources into our Support and Wellbeing Services such as the Advice team, counselling and chaplaincy services at both the Hope Park and Creative campuses. All libraries will be open during advertised opening hours. The Library service points including the Subject Support Points will be staffed and the Faculty Librarians will be available to provide help and support.
Our Academic Writing, Academic Skills and Careers teams will also be providing additional support sessions. The schedule for these will be made available to you through Moodle before the start of the strike. If you are registered on the Service and Leadership award some of these sessions will also be of particular benefit in meeting the requirements of the award.
18. Who can I speak to if I have concerns or feedback on the impact of industrial action?
Where you have concerns, you can always seek to speak to your personal tutor in the first instance. You can also speak to your Head of School or Department.
We have also created a dedicated email address for strike related queries. If you send an email regarding any concerns, staff will do their best to advise you. The address is firstname.lastname@example.org
Student Support and Wellbeing and particularly the Gateway Desk can also provide guidance and support on a range of issues. You can find out more and contact them via email@example.com
Strike action: 14 strike dates will be spread over four weeks, as follows:
Week 1. Thursday 20 and Friday 21 February
Week 2. Monday 24, Tuesday 25 and Wednesday 26 February
Week 3. Monday 2, Tuesday 3, Wednesday 4 and Thursday 5 March
Week 4. Monday 9, Tuesday 10, Wednesday 11, Thursday 12 and Friday 13 March
Action short of strike (ASOS): commencing from 25 November 2019 and finishing no later than 29 April 2020.
Response to Student Queries
Liverpool Hope is proud to be a gold rated University. The excellent academic staff that we have at the University made a significant contribution, alongside the support staff, to the attainment of that gold standard.
The number of staff at the University is 696 and the majority of those people are currently working to ensure that the University continues to run effectively. This includes teaching, catering, the library, the halls of residence, Health and Safety amongst many others. In previous correspondence the University explained that of these 696, 162 are UCU members eligible to vote, and 89 voted in favour of industrial action with 9 voting no and 1 blank sheet. You should be aware that a small number of UCU members are not academic staff. The academic core staff number is 296 in total. You will be interested to know that all staff received the 1.8% negotiated cost of living pay rise. Some members of staff including academics, also received an annual increment; these increases can range from 1.7% through to 2.7% dependent on grade position and are additional to the 1.8%.
The four issues raised by the Union are of importance to the University:
1. Pay: We are in agreement that our academic colleagues should receive fair remuneration for their work. As explained to you in communications last week, the Union and the University have elected to be part of collective bargaining for pay, which is conducted by UCEA. We have played a full role as is required of us in that process. Having elected to be part of that process, the University, and the Union, need to see it through to its conclusion and to rely on UCEA to conduct negotiations as is appropriate. The pay offer reflects not what individual universities can afford but what the sector can afford; although individually some institutions may be able to offer more than others.
2. Workload/Conditions: In terms of working conditions, every academic has a teaching workload that is overseen by their Head of School/Department and ultimately by their Dean. In the academic contract the allowance is made for each academic to teach up to 550 hours. At Hope the maximum for any academic colleague is set at 300 hours (except in certain cases where the agreement allows for more). When these levels are reached, the Head of School/Department will in the first instance, reallocate work and subsequently may be granted additional staff. Equally, staff workloads are overseen in the light of staff student ratios. Obviously, the specifics of this value vary between subjects but the University ensures SSRs in a subject do not exceed 1:20.
3. Gender Pay: At Hope all of our lecturers, senior lecturers, professional tutors, senior professional tutors, associate professors and principal lecturers earn equal pay for equal work and are on a common nationally agreed pay spine. You will be aware that the gender pay gap is a sector wide, if not UK wide, issue. At Hope we have been working to ameliorate this gap. We have invested in the Aurora scheme, which is a development programme for female academic and other staff. Many staff who have been part of this scheme have subsequently achieved a promotion. It is also of note that the mean gender pay gap for academic staff at Hope is 6.32% which is down from 9.12% the previous year. In terms of BAME staff there is no gap for academic staff at Hope - the mean is, in fact, 10.8% higher for BAME academic staff. Obviously, changes in staffing can impact quite significantly either way on such figures. These figures all relate to last year’s data. You may be interested to read the current report, which can be found at https://www.hope.ac.uk/gateway/staff/personnel/genderpay/. The new data will be presented next year.
4. Casualisation: As many of you have recognised, Liverpool Hope is doing better than many other institutions on this front. The University does not have zero-hours contracts for hourly paid lecturers. We employ only a minimum number of hourly paid teaching and other staff. We do not contract out any of our services, choosing to be able to ensure that pay and conditions are appropriate. All our Postdoctoral teaching fellows are paid on the same grade as our lecturers.
The funds that are built up during the strike will be used to pay for activities that support students affected by the industrial action. This might include the recruitment of additional staff to provide alternative and additional learning opportunities where this is necessary. It might also include the provision of additional resources or opportunities for students. In previous years the University has had a policy of saving all withheld money and using it to fund our Global Hope service missions to other countries. You will be aware that Global Hope offers overseas learning opportunities to all Hope students. Should there be any funds left after providing alternative learning opportunities to affected students at this time, the University will adopt the same policy.
The University has committed to replacing any learning opportunities missed as a result of the strike. We are pleased to hear from some of you that you feel that your lecturers have provided you with resources to support you during this period. Please remember that the University expects you to attend teaching where it is being provided.