Members of the Edinburgh branch of the University and Colleges Union (UCU) will be joining other branches across the UK in taking industrial action to defend pensions, pay and equality over 14 days during February and March 2020. 

At a Student Council Meeting in November, students voted overwhelmingly in favour of a motion calling for the Students’ Association to support University staff in their Industrial action. We will continue this support for these upcoming strikes, however we are mindful to recognise that some students will have concerns about what the strikes will mean for them. To help support students we have put together the information below. Students can also contact the Sabbatical Officer team with any questions or concerns, or get advice from The Advice Place. 


There will be another chance to debate the support the Students’ Association gives to the strikes at the upcoming Student Council meeting on 27 February. 


After Student Council in November we received a clear mandate from our members to support the Industrial Action being taken including Action Short of a Strike thereafter. Following this we will continue our support of UCU in their upcoming action, though the matter will be considered again in the present context of renewed strike action at our next Student Council on 27 February. In the run up to the Action beginning 24 February we will be having discussions with UCU to determine what this support can look like. 


We feel it is important to recognise that as an organisation that represents all students, there are many Postgraduate Research students who may be taking part in industrial action, in order to improve their working conditions. 


We also acknowledge that there will be many students who feel anxious about the impact industrial action may have on them, given it coincides with the end of the teaching period and the lead up to examinations and deadlines. Our priority during this action is to support all students affected by the strike, including making every effort to ensure students feel informed about the potential consequences.  


The Students’ Association will also continue to work with UCU and the University during the strike action to ensure minimal impacts on students’ learning, teaching and wellbeing. We have been assured that all support services including the Disability and Counselling services will remain unpicketed to students. We will also be providing alternative study space in our venues to students who do not wish to cross the picket line.  


We encourage all students to attend Student Council on 27 February to debate a further motion on supporting the strikes, to ensure that all students' voices are heard in relation to this period of industrial action. 



UCU Edinburgh strikes will take place:

  • February 24-27 (Monday-Thursday)
  • March 2-6 (Monday-Friday)
  • March 9-13 (Monday-Friday)


UCU nationally are calling for the following: 


  • A modest pay-rise - to match inflation, and to start making up for ten years of cuts; 
  • An end to fixed-term and zero-hours contracts in universities; 
  • A concrete and binding plan from employers to close the gender and BME pay gaps, and to reduce workloads; 
  • No rises in pension contributions.


Despite the strike action in November 2019, UCU and the University and Colleges Employers Association (UCEA) have failed to come to an agreement on the conditions outlined above. 


Strikes action is the last report when negotiating with employers. Staff striking will lose their pay, and often suffer significant hardship as a result. 


You can find out more detail about what UCU are asking for and the reasons behind the strike here





A picket line is where staff and union reps (‘picketers’ or ‘pickets’) stand outside a workplace to tell other people why they are striking. Students and staff will be encouraged not to ‘cross the picket line’ i.e. enter the building, but that is a personal choice for you to make. 


During the dates above staff who are taking part in the strike action will not be taking lectures or tutorials, so these will be cancelled. They also won’t be marking assignments, providing feedback, meeting with students, or responding to e-mails.


The University has put together FAQs on how the strikes might impact your studies here.




Throughout the industrial action students and staff will be coordinating events and activities providing members of the University community with the opportunity to learn more about the strikes, and show their solidarity with staff involved in industrial action.

You could also write to the Principal, Peter Mathieson and tell him you back your lecturer and teachers. Click here to use the UCU template to send your e-mail, or alternatively you can e-mail directly.