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Strike Handbook

Published: 15th November, 2019

This is the Leicester UCU Strike Handbook 2019 – covering all strike plans and advice for the strike taking place between 25th November and 4th December. This page will be updated as strike plans and events change – please check regularly for updates.

Last revision: 10 December 2019


Picket line locations

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Picket line organization

ALL MEMBERS ARE EXPECTED, IF ABLE, TO PARTICIPATE IN PICKETING! This is not an optional extra, it is an essential part of our action. During the 2018 USS strikes, the large crowds on our picket lines demonstrated to the University (and, indeed, to the whole HE sector – via social media) the strength of feeling and overwhelming support by members. We must repeat this!  

Department Picket Line
Archaeology & Ancient HistoryUniversity Road Entrance 2
Attenborough Arts CentreUniversity Road Entrance 2
Business SchoolBrookfield
Cancer StudiesVictoria Park Road Entrance
Cardiovascular SciencesVictoria Park Road Entrance
ChemistryGeorge Davies Centre / MSB
CriminologyGeorge Davies Centre / MSB
Development & Alumni RelationsUniversity Road Entrance 2
EducationGeorge Davies Centre / MSB
ELTUGeorge Davies Centre / MSB
EngineeringUniversity Road Entrance 1
EnglishVictoria Park Entrance
Estates & Campus ServicesUniversity Road Entrance 1
External RelationsUniversity Road Entrance 2
FinanceUniversity Road Entrance 1
GeneticsGeorge Davies Centre / MSB
GeographyGeorge Davies Centre / MSB
GeologyGeorge Davies Centre / MSB
Health SciencesGeorge Davies Centre / MSB
History of Art & FilmVictoria Park Entrance
History, Politics & International RelationsUniversity Road Entrance 2
Infection, Immunity & InflammationUniversity Road Entrance 2
Innovation HubVictoria Park Road Entrance
InformaticsUniversity Road Entrance 2
International OfficeUniversity Road Entrance 1
IT ServicesUniversity Road Entrance 1
LawVictoria Park Road Entrance
Legal OfficeUniversity Road Entrance 2
Leicester Learning InstituteGeorge Davies Centre / MSB
LibraryUniversity Road Entrance 1
MathematicsUniversity Road Entrance 1
Media, Communication & SociologyVictoria Park Entrance
Medical & Social Care EducationVictoria Park Road Entrance
Modern LanguagesVictoria Park Entrance
Molecular & Cell BiologyVictoria Park Entrance
Museum StudiesGeorge Davies Centre / MSB
Neuroscience, Psychology & BehaviourGeorge Davies Centre / MSB
Physics & AstronomyGeorge Davies Centre / MSB
Research & Enterprise DivisionUniversity Road Entrance 2
Student & Academic ServicesUniversity Road Entrance 1
Student Support ServicesUniversity Road Entrance 1
Vaughan Centre for Lifelong LearningUniversity Road Entrance 1

Any other department, or for general support and questions, go to University Road Entrance 2.

Why picket

The picket line is a key tool in making strike action effective. That’s why it’s so essential that that we organise them well and that all members make every effort to take part if they can. The strength and size of pickets show management, the public, the press and our colleagues how determined UCU is to win the fights. Although our pickets will be peaceful, their purpose is also to discourage anyone – colleagues, students and other workers – from crossing them. The goal of the strike, after all, is not simply to have wages docked – it’s to disrupt the normal working of the university.

In addition to the rewards associated with maximising the effectiveness of our action, picketing can be an incredible experience – it was for those who took part in February and March 2018. Besides the camaraderie, picketing is a great way to meet your colleagues and students, not only those from your own department or section, but from across the university. Unbounded by the strictures of University-Leadership-sanctified committees, seminars and grant workshops, the picket line can be thought of as the ultimate trans-disciplinary research event. (In 2018, one of our branch officer even made a contact that resulting in a successful grant application.)

Guide to picket-line apparel and equipment

Click for larger picture

What happens when I am on strike?

First, you should not – and are not required to – declare to your manager and/or HR that you will strike beforehand.

When on strike, all UCU members are expected to:

Support Us

  • Make yourself available for picketing and other strike-day activities
  • Not attend work and/or your office on strike days

No Emails

  • Not log-on to the university network
  • Not read or respond to work emails during the duration of multiple-day strikes
  • Put an ‘I am on strike, etc.,’ automatic reply on your email
  • Delete all work emails received during the strike (except those from students)

No Teaching or administration

  • Not ‘catch-up’ with work planned for during the strike
  • Dissuade any colleagues from covering for your absence
  • Not ‘decline’ or rearrange meetings
  • Not rearrange classes

No Research

  • Not attend research seminars and other research events

During Strike – Out Of Office emails

UCU members should not read or respond to any emails whilst on strike, and should immediately delete, unread, all emails on return to work — except for those from students. During strike periods, we ask you to put an out-of-office auto-reply on your emails. We suggest the following text — though of course you may edit this if you prefer.

I am currently unavailable as I am striking over Pensions, Pay and Equality.
Background to the dispute can be found here:
You can support us by joining UCU ( and taking part in strike action.
If you are a student, I will respond to your email on my return — though you may have to be patient. 
Otherwise, I will not be reading this email, and will delete it, unread, on my return.

Messages to other staff

To UoL staff that are not UCU members 

  • If you are eligible to join UCU, then do it! You can do so instantly.
  • Member of others trade unions: Please don’t cross our picket line! 
  • If you do have to cross, show us your support (e.g. bring cups of tea/coffee to the picket line!)

To contractors

  • Please don’t cross our picket line. 

To Unitemps-employed UCU members (including many PhD students)

  • The dispute is with the university, not Unitemps, so you do not have a legal mandate to strike and are not given the same protections if they refuse to do your prior-arranged/normal Unitemps work. 
  • Do not accept Unitemps jobs that appear to be new jobs created to cover striking staff.

Messages to students

Tell them that you’ll be going on strike and why – we need their support and we need to make common cause with them! But don’t tell them that their lectures and classes will be cancelled. There are three reasons for this:

  1. Make managers make this decision – and direct your students to your head of school or department;
  2. Some students (those without EU passports) may still need to ‘Touch Green to Be Seen’ – don’t jeopardise any student’s licence to remain in the country;
  3. We hope employers will return to negotiations – if our dispute with them is resolved to our satisfaction, then we will return to work and teaching events will go ahead as scheduled.

In addition

  • Please don’t cross our picket line.
  • Continue your education in a different way by joining us on the picket lines (you’re very welcome) and coming along to one of the teach-out events.
  • Write to the VC expressing your support for us and asking him what he’s doing to help resolve the dispute.
  • Write to your MP (maybe after the election!), telling them you are concerned about situation your educators are in (low pay, precarity, etc) and requesting they ask questions of Pensions Regulator and UUK.
  • (PhD students: the strikes are for 8 working days so this should not impact on your attendance requirements for your funders – but please check this).

Strike Timetable and Themes

The initial strike is planned for the following timeframe:

For each strike day, please arrive at your designated picket location as early as possible – preferably 7:30am to 8am (allowing for childcare and other commitments). We plan, each day, to converge on University Road Entrance 2 at 11:30am. We would expect to end each day between midday and 1pm…

Date Theme
Monday 25th NovemberTheme for the day: Strike materials production. Come and help us make placards and posters. At the end of the day there will be a prize for the best poster or the quickest placard maker.

We will also be reminding students to register to vote.

Teach out event – “Corruption & Surveillance Capitalism” – 11:00 to 11:30, University Road Entrance 2
Tuesday 26th NovemberTheme for the day: Music. Bring your instruments to the picket lines. Music volume is more important than musical talent. There will be a prize for the most musical.

Teach out event – “The Politics of Northern Ireland” – Leicester Cathedral – 11:00
Wednesday 27th NovemberTheme for the day: Bring you pet to the picket-line day. Prize for the best dressed pet.

Teach out event – “Decolonizing the Curriculum” – 11:00 to 11:30, University Road Entrance 2
Thursday 28th NovemberTheme for the day: Most magnificent hat. Whether fashionable, practical or colourful, there will be a prize for the best one. The prize will be another hat.

Teach out event – “Precarity on trial” – 11:00 to 11:30, University Road Entrance 2
Friday 29th NovemberTheme for the day: Bake-off – please bake a cake, biscuit, brownie, or other treat – there will be a prize for the best!

We will also be supporting the Climate Strike.

Teach out event – “Border controls and the hostile environment in HE and ways of resisting” – Unis Resist Border Controls – 11:00 to 11:30, University Road Entrance 2
Saturday 30th NovemberNo weekend working (unless contracted to do so) – This is action short of a strike!
Sunday 1st DecemberNo weekend working (unless contracted to do so) – This is action short of a strike!
Monday 2nd DecemberTheme for the day: 70s Disco. Proze for the best dressed and dancing.

Teach out event – “French language for beginners” – 11:00 to 11:30, University Road Entrance 2
Tuesday 3rd DecemberTheme for the day: #ExhaustionRebellion. Dress in PJs, dressing gown, slippers…

Teach Out event – “The situation in Hong Kong” – 11:00 to 11:30, University Road Entrance 2
Wednesday 4th DecemberTheme for the day: Festive Fun. Bring festive items to the picket-line – e.g. Christmas trees, reindeer (real or otherwise), jumpers or other non-Christmas festival items. Prizes for the best!

This day is Day of Action for Disability Equality in Education. Find out more on the picket line.
Thursday 5th December and onwards…Back to work (until the next round of strikes). Don’t forget that ASOS still applies, and don’t catch-up with work not done during the previous 8 strike days!

Daily Prize

A much-sought-after UCU hat, mug or insulated cup will be the prize each day:

For students – Ask us about the strike

Leicester UCU are in regular contact with Leicester Students’ Union. We will hold “Ask us about the strike” events in which we make ourselves available to discuss the strike, what we are fighting for and the likely impact on the University. We will do this from Centenary Square on campus:

  • Wednesday 20 November – 11:30am to 2pm
  • Thursday 21 November – 11:30am to 2pm

We are conscious that we should not affect students on tier 2 visas. Further advice is available here.

Strike fund

UCU have announced that there will be a strike fund to cover some lost salary. Full details are here. UCU have committed:

  • those earning £30,000 or more will be able to claim up to £50 from the third day onwards.
  • those earning below £30,000 will be able to claim up to £75 per day from the second day onwards.

Non-members should be encouraged to donate to the strike fund:

Leicester UCU will not be operating its own strike fund.

Daily strike reports

Strike reports are being written for each day of the strike:

Monday (day 1) strike report.

Tuesday (day 2) strike report.

Wednesday (day 3) strike report.

Thursday (day 4) strike report.

Friday (day 5) strike report.

Monday (day 6) strike report.

Tuesday (day 7) strike report.

Wednesday (day 8) strike report.

Social Media

We encourage lots of social media use during the strikes as this will get our messages to our colleagues, students and the wider public.

Please use #LeicUniStrike


Our union colleagues at Unison have generously offered all strikers on the picket-lines a hot drink from Ernie on Victoria Park. This will show support with Leicester UCU, and help The Bridge Homelessness to Hope charity.

Please show your picket armband to receive your hot drink.

Frequently asked questions

More FAQs on the UCU website.

I am on a research only contract – what should I do?

If you are on a research-only contract and you are taking strike action, you should not work and should follow all other advice.

For researchers, strike action does have an impact on the University. Your work will be slowed down and your email auto-responses will go to your funders, partners and colleagues. Your presence on the picket lines will help our action.

I am on a research-only externally funded contracts – what should I do?

If you are employed by the University on an externally-funded contract and you take strike action you should not work and should follow all other advice.

If your employment contract is with an external funding body, or any other body or agency, you should not strike.

I am on an hourly-paid and GTA contract

If you are employed on an hourly-paid or GTA contract and you take strike action you should not work and should follow all other advice.

I am on research leave – how do I strike?

If you are on research leave and you take strike action you should not work and should follow all other advice.

I am on annual leave/parental leave/sickness absence. Can I strike?

If you are not at work for these reasons during strike action, you cannot strike. We encourage you to donate any earnings to UCU fighting fund.

I am a migrant worker with a visa – can I strike?

Since the UCU industrial action in early 2018, there have been changes to the immigration rules that make explicit that unpaid leave for the purposes of industrial action is exempt from the reporting duties for sponsors of Tier 2 and Tier 5 visas. The change was announced in July 2018 by Sajid Javid (see full statement here): “It is not the Government’s policy to prevent migrant workers from engaging in legal strike action; and, to date, I am not aware of any case where a migrant worker has had their leave curtailed, or been removed, as a result of having engaged in legal industrial action. However, to put the matter beyond doubt, I will be making changes to the guidance and Immigration Rules for migrant workers (under the Tier 2 and 5 immigration routes) and their sponsors.” You can view the updated rules here, and the updated guidance for sponsors here.

Further advice has been provided by UCU here.