University of Edinburgh – Staff strike action 


Latest information (16 April 2018)


UCU Industrial action called off

On Friday 13 April, UCU members voted in to accept a proposal approved by UUK to resolve the pensions dispute.


63.5% of UCU members turned out to vote with 64% voting in favour and 36% voting against the new proposal.


This means any planned industrial action will be called off and no exams or graduations will be effected, however UCU made clear that their mandate to strike will be upheld until USS recognises the agreement between UCU and UUK.


Oliver Glick, Vice President Community said  “We are so proud of all UCU members who engaged in robust industrial action as well as those who voted, and support their democratic decision. We are equally proud of the students who came out in various brilliant ways to support the UCU. We want to add our support to UCU General Secretary Sally Hunt’s sentiment, in making sure that the expert panel, created to independently assess the pension scheme, works as well as it can for UCU members.”


For more details visit the UCU website here, or the University of Edinburgh’s FAQ page here.



February & March 2018


On Monday 22 January, University and College Union (UCU), which is the largest University Staff Union in the UK, voted in favour of 14 days of strike action to protest against proposed changes to the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) pension scheme, which the majority of University staff are enrolled in.


The University should communicate with you about disruption to your classes via departments and have created this webpage which they will update with information. 


All of our Students’ Association buildings - including our shops, bars and cafes - and our services, like the Advice Place, will be open as usual. 


We have created the FAQs below to try and answer some of the questions you may have about the strike. 


We will keep this page as up to date as possible as new information becomes available. 

Edinburgh University Students’ Association’s position


The Students’ Association stands in solidarity with the University and Colleges Union (UCU) in their strike, as we believe those working in higher education should be treated and remunerated fairly.

This strike may also be used as a platform to raise issues regarding unpaid work and teaching conditions.

We feel that the long-term benefits of improving conditions for staff to enable good learning and teaching quality will be worth the action.
In practice, this means that the Students’ Association:
  • Will NOT be working with the University to organise any alternative forms of teaching to cover classes that are cancelled due to the strike.

  • WILL work with the University to ensure that students’ to ensure that the strike will have a minimal effects on students’ academic experience; e.g. negotiating the postponements of deadlines.

  • WILL provide information and guidance to students about the ways they can support the strike.

  • WILL encourage our student members that are also employed by the university to become members of UCU.
  • WILL urge the senior management team at the University to put pressure on Universities UK to negotiate with UCU.

At Student Council on Thursday 15 February, students voted overwhelmingly (95.6% in favour) to support University staff who are UCU members' right to strike. As people invested in the long term effects on education of pension cuts to staff, we will stand in solidarity with those striking.

We will be consulting with and working with your elected Student Representatives to provide updates.

What does the strike look like?


A strike involves the workers withholding their labour. In this case it may mean disruption to teaching and research within departments. There may be picket lines outside university buildings during the strike.

Find out more here.
The members of UCU are typically academics and postgraduate students that teach. Not all academics and postgraduates are members of UCU.

Some UCU members may also decide that they don’t want to join the strike.

The academics and postgraduates that aren’t joining the strike will continue to carry out their normal work.
Action short of a strike is when the employees of an organisation engage in an action that cannot be classified as a strike nor is it the work that the employee is hired to do, but it is somewhere in between these two.

Workers engage in action short of a strike to interrupt the normal flow of business and functions in the workplace or department so as to make the employer realise that they are dependent on the employee’s goodwill to run the business and hence they should not engage in practices which are against the interests of their employees like job cuts and pay cuts.

When an ‘action short of a strike’ is designed it includes maximum number of people possible so that the impact is strong.
Staff at the University of Edinburgh will participate in 14 days of escalating strikes over four week period as outlined below*:
  • Week one – Monday 26, Tuesday 27 and Wednesday 28 February (three days)
  • Week two – Monday 5, Tuesday 6, Wednesday 7 and Thursday 8 March (four days)
  • Week three – Monday 12, Tuesday 13, Wednesday 14, Thursday 15 and Friday 16 March (five days)
  • Week four – Monday 19 and Tuesday 20 March (two days)
    The Students’ Association will continue to monitor the situation and will update this page if there are any changes to these plans.

*Note that these dates will be different at other Universities (strikes begin on Thu 22 February and finish on Fri 16 March elsewhere) as Edinburgh is allowing for the Festival of Creative Learning w/c 16 Feb).

  • 1. Don’t cross a picket line (unless you believe it will have a negative impact on your studies) - We've worked to ensure that physical hand-ins are moved to the nest non-strike day.

  • 2. Hang out with those on the picket line! - Ask those staff on the picket line if they would like some company, and spend some time with them.

  • 3. Educate your friends and classmates about the strike - Like our UCU Strikes Facebook page and then share our posts on your page. Have conversations, and help spread the word about what’s happening.

  • 4. Kick off the strike in the right way – attend Monday’s rally and Tuesday’s Festival of Solidarity - Monday’s rally is at 12.30pm in Bristo Square and Tuesday’s Festival of Solidarity will include food, discussions, performances and more at Potterrow Dome from 12.30pm.

  • 5. Tell your striking lecturers and staff that you support the strike! - Staff don’t want to strike, but feel they have to because of how disastrous this pension change is. Let them know you value them and their work.

  • 6. Keep an eye out for other events, across different campuses and schools - Different schools will be hosting different events, whether they be Teach Outs or the movie screening of Pride on Wed 28 Feb. We’ll also be posting them here!

  • 7. Contact University management with your thoughts and complaints, not striking staff - You can find contact information here.

  • 8. Wear a badge showing your support - You can find these at all Students’ Association receptions from Monday morning – take a few, they’re free!

  • 9. Keep up to date on all student solidarity efforts - We’ve created a Facebook page to make it easier for you to find out what students are organising across campus – find us here.

  • 10. Want help running your own event, or to be more involved? - Sign up to this mailing list if you want to go even further with helping organising support events and efforts. You could help with banner making or keeping picket lines in cups of tea!

UCU has a pre-written message you can send to UoE staff at this link.

You may go past a picket line.

A picket line is where workers and union reps (‘picketers’ or ‘pickets’) stand outside a workplace to tell other people why they are striking.

Pickets may also ask people not to:
  • do some of their usual work
  • go into work

Pickets must not prevent people from going to work or doing their usual work if they want to do so.’

Find out more here.


Effect on students


It is difficult to say exactly how the strike will impact on you. The impact depends on your level of study.

For example, certain undergraduates may be less affected than postgraduates, because teaching in colleges is likely to be less affected than teaching in departments. It also depends on which staff members decide to participate in the strike on the day.

The impact also depends on the length of the strike. The strike is currently scheduled to take place over a four-week period, but if UUK and UCU are unable to reach an agreement, the strike may be extended.

If this happens, the Students’ Association will update this FAQ page to ensure that students are informed about the changes to the situation.
Your supervision may be affected by the strike. Please contact your supervisor or the leader of your research group to get more information about the impact on your research. If you are employed by the university (e.g. teaching undergraduates), you should contact UCU to get more information about your rights and duties. If you are an enrolled postgraduate student contracted to teach in UK higher education institutions you are entitled to free membership of UCU. You can join here.
Students should contact their department if they are worried about the impact the strike will have on their course of study. The University has said that some departmental teaching may be affected and this may include PGT students.
It may affect teaching in departments, such as lectures and classes. Depending on the length of the strike this could also mean that there will be an impact on marking. At this stage, we cannot say which departments will be effected as it depends which staff decide to participate on the day.
We would recommend that students attend their scheduled activities as normal unless they have specifically been told otherwise. However there may be picket lines outside of your department and crossing this could be perceived as not being in support of the strikers.
Deadlines may be moved, but we would advise working to all deadlines you have unless you hear otherwise from your School.
Check with the University for updates on disrupted services. They have a webpage which they are updating here. There may be picket lines outside of faculties or libraries.

Pickets must not prevent people from going to work or doing their usual work if they want to do so. Crossing picket lines to use facilities in departments or libraries could be perceived as not being in support of the strikers. If you want to show solidarity please see ‘What can I do if I want to support the strike?’
UCU have communicated to us that they have a policy not to disrupt what they call ‘clinical services’ this includes counselling, so we understand that the counselling service will not affected by the strike.
If you have any questions about your tuition fees, you should direct them to the University. See ‘Who should I contact?’ below.

Complaints, feedback, questions and updates


If you have complaints, we encourage you to write to:
Prof. Peter Mathieson, University

You may also wish to contact the following University staff:  

UCU has a pre-written message you can send to UoE staff at this link.

If you have questions not answered in the FAQs or if want to give feedback to the Students’ Association about the strike you can contact
From UCU - through their website and Twitter
From the University - they should communicate with you about disruption to your classes via departments and also with updates to this webpage.
From the Students’ Association - we will update our information on the strike as and when we get it on this page and via our Facebook and Twitter pages.