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LBSU statement on industrial action

Industrial action, also known as strike action, will be carried out by members of Unison at Leeds Beckett this week. Unison is the trade Union that represents some of the staff who work in service areas in the university, such as the library, security, and administration.


Members of the two main trade unions at Leeds Beckett University (Unison and UCU) will be participating in three days of strike action, on 24th, 25th, and 30th November. Unison primarily represent professional and support staff, while UCU represent mainly academic and teaching staff. The strike action is in response to ongoing disputes over pay and conditions, following the breakdown of the national collective bargaining process which ended without resolution earlier this year.

As a Students’ Union that represents over 25,000 students at Leeds Beckett, our primary charitable responsibility is to students’ education and this always has to be our main focus. With this in mind, we are asking the University to do everything it can to minimise any disruption that might occur as a result of the industrial action. At the same time we would also like to state our support and solidarity with those staff who have taken the difficult decision to strike in their fight for better pay and conditions. We believe that the working conditions of university staff reflect directly on the experience of our students, and to that end we are fully behind the principles leading to the planned action. Unison and UCU have asked us to help communicate why they feel they have had to resort to strike action – you can find their statement below.

Some aspects of the dispute, such as the level of the national pay increase, can only be resolved through the collective bargaining process in which 147 universities take part. We believe that a long term solution to issues across higher education, for staff and students, must come from the Government and we will continue to work with NUS and others on this issue in the year ahead. Students deserve their education, staff deserve decent pay and universities need decent funding to be able to deliver this. We hope that both the University and trade unions can continue a meaningful dialogue locally to make progress on other elements of terms and working conditions.

The University has released information for students about the strikes, including FAQs, which you can find hereThe recommendation of the University is that students should assume their timetables and studies will continue as normal – however we feel it is important that students are aware of the likelihood of some disruption before they take the decision to attend campus on strike days.

Below we have outlined some answers to common questions around industrial action and what it might mean for students. If you have any other questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to let us know using the link below.

What is industrial action?

Industrial action is a general term for actions taken by members of a trade union in protest against their employer. The most common form of action is to go on strike, which is often the last resort after negotiations have failed. A strike is when workers refuse to continue working because of an argument with an employer about working conditions, pay levels, or job losses. Staff who are on strike will not get paid for the duration of the industrial action.

Why are some staff going on strike?

Statement from Unison and UCU:

Dear Student

Staff pay at Leeds Beckett University has been eroded over the last decade. It has declined 15-20% against inflation since 2010. The University’s pay offer of 3% while inflation is set to rise 13%, is a real-terms pay cut. This is despite staff risking their health working on-site during Covid to keep key student services running.

For this reason UCU (University and Colleges Union) and UNISON are jointly taking strike action on the 24th, 25th and 30th November at Leeds Beckett University and the University of Leeds. UCU and UNISON are trade unions of academics, researchers, tutors, administrators, IT staff, student support staff, librarians, postgraduate research students, cleaners, security staff and estates workers in universities and colleges across the UK. As trade unions, we fight for good working conditions for our members and for the health of the sector as a whole.

? The working conditions of staff at the University are directly linked to the learning conditions for you as students. Working conditions directly impacts upon your experience as a student and the quality of the degree you spend so long working to achieve.

? We work here because we are passionate about making the student experience the best it can be; we want to ensure that the right support is in place for you and we want to share our knowledge and develop your understanding of your chosen disciplines.

? When we are overworked, underpaid and facing year-on-year cuts to our terms and conditions, the quality of your education suffers.

? We are also asking the University to take steps to end excessive and unsafe workloads which have been perpetuated for years and have got even worse over the pandemic; massive over-reliance on precarious contracts; engrained and embedded inequalities including pay and progression gaps; real terms pay cuts.

? When we face huge amounts of stress and time pressures, this impacts on our ability to deliver what you expect of your education, and the quality of your education suffers.

? When we spend each day worried about being able to afford our household costs, food and support our families, the quality of your education suffers.

? Many of you will go on to work in universities in the future or already do in part-time jobs alongside your studies or as students studying a PhD and teaching alongside.


What is a picket line?

A picket line is a form of protest, which involves workers establishing a boundary, often at the entrance to their place of work, which other people are asked not to cross. You may be asked by workers on strike not to cross picket lines established in front of University buildings. You should not be physically prevented from entering a building with a picket line, and there is official guidance on picket line behaviour. You may want to take the opportunity to speak to staff on picket lines to find out more information about the strike.

How might the strikes affect students?

Strikes aim to influence decision-makers in the University – they are not aimed at making a negative impact on students. However, because this industrial action is likely to involve both teaching and support staff, it is likely that some impact that will be felt by students. This could mean things like last minute cancellation of lectures and seminars, less staff being available in the libraries, or cancellation of appointments with University advice and support services.

Will our Students’ Union still be open?

Yes – we are a separate entity to the University and our staff are not on strike. All of our services, spaces, activities and opportunities will be running as normal through the strike action and will be available for you to access regardless of your feelings about the strike.

Take care,

LBSU Officer Team x