Last updated: Friday 2 December 2022

The College will be impacted by industrial action beginning in November 2022.

What is industrial action?

Industrial action, also known as a strike, occurs when an employer and a trade union (representing all or some employees in an organisation) disagree. A trade union then asks its membership to vote on whether it agrees with its position, and if so, whether it agrees that members should withhold their labour for a set period. Labour laws govern what action employees and employers can take during a strike.
 

What is this industrial action regarding?

There are two separate periods of industrial action relating to two disputes.  

The national branch of UCU have approved their members undertaking industrial action on Thursday 24, Friday 25, and Wednesday 30 November 2022. This is a national dispute in relation to the USS pension scheme and its most recent valuation. 

Beyond these individual dates, the industrial action will include Action Short of Strike (ASOS), from Wednesday 23 November until Thursday 20 April 2023. More information is provided below. 

All three of the Joint Trade Unions (JTUs) at Imperial (Unite, UCU and Unison) have formally raised a trade dispute in relation to the College’s Annual Pay Award, in which all staff received a salary increase ranging from 8.5% for our lowest paid staff to 1.1% for the highest salaries. This process is negotiated with our JTUs. The College preference is always to reach agreement. Unfortunately, we were unable to come to an agreement and the award was implemented on 1 August 2022.

Our local branch of UCU has approved their members undertaking industrial action in relation to the College’s Annual Pay Award. This includes strike action on Wednesday 30 November, and ASOS from Wednesday 30 November until Monday 17 April 2023. Our local branch of Unite has also approved their members undertaking strike action on Wednesday 30 November. The Unison ballot did not meet the threshold for turnout and so they do not have a mandate for strike action. 

What might this mean for me?

Of our approximately 8,500 staff members, approximately 850 are members of the JTUs and may be involved with industrial action. 

This may result in disruption to some educational activities, including:  

  • Lectures and seminars may be cancelled at short notice 
  • Feedback and assessment may take longer 
  • Materials relating to your course may be unavailable on the days of strike action 

Not every part of the College will experience the same level of disruption. Trade union membership varies greatly across different departments and represents a minority of College staff as a whole.  

Every effort will be made to ensure disruption is minimised. Suitable alternative methods to ensure learning outcomes will be developed where required.  

We fully respect the right of our trade union members to exercise their right to take industrial action. We’ll continue to work with the JTUs to discuss our areas of disagreement and articulate a positive path forward. 

Leadership in individual academic departments will be in contact with students with further details of how timetabled teaching activities may be impacted.    

Learn more about USS

If you wish to learn more about the ongoing USS valuation, we have further information available on our USS webpages:

FAQs for students on industrial action

What is the College's position?

The College fully respects and will not seek to undermine the right of our staff to take industrial action and to withdraw their labour.

How will the College ensure the impact on my studies is minimised?

We will seek to mitigate the impact on your education in terms of teaching, learning and assessment, though there may be some variation in delivery. 

We're working with Heads of Department to mitigate the impact on your education in terms of teaching, learning and assessment. We're working hard to ensure that, as far as possible, teaching and assessment activities continue as normal. If your department becomes aware that one of its staff is taking part in the strike, we will make every effort to let you know.   Where teaching cannot be delivered as scheduled, it may be rescheduled, delivered by another member of staff, or delivered in a different format.  

During the strike it is important that you continue to:   

  • Be aware of any changes to schedules 
  • Attend all lectures and other teaching sessions as scheduled 
  • Submit coursework by the specified deadlines 
  • Attend all scheduled examinations and other assessments  

We ask for your understanding if your department has to make last-minute alternative arrangements. Timetables are designed to even out the workload over the term, and this balance may be affected if lectures have to be rescheduled or rearranged. We encourage you to review forthcoming assessment deadlines and use any time released by postponed teaching activities for study, working on coursework or revision.

Will the College be closed?

No, the College will remain open as normal.

 

What will happen to the salaries saved by the College?

Most funds from withheld salaries will be paid directly into the Student Support Fund. Some funding may be allocated to departments if they need to mitigate the impacts of the strike action on students. Any unspent funds will be redirected back to the Student Support Fund.

What is 'action short of strike' (ASOS)?

ASOS will take the form of some or all of: 

  • Working to contract;

  • Not covering for colleagues;

  • Not undertaking any voluntary duties including Open Days;

  • Not making up work missed during industrial action, including lectures or classes;

  • Removing uploaded materials related to, and/or not sharing materials related to, work that will be or has been cancelled as a result of strike action;

  • Not providing materials for others to cover work during industrial action;

  • Boycott of annual TOAST survey;

  • Boycott of staff surveys and training, including Imperial essentials training.

Will my lectures, tutorials and exams go ahead?

Lectures and tutorials 

We're working hard to mitigate the impact on teaching and assessment activities. Where teaching cannot be delivered as scheduled, it may be rescheduled, delivered by another member of staff, or delivered in a different format. 

Exams 

We will make every effort to ensure all your assessment activities go ahead and are staffed appropriately. However, your assessment may need to be rescheduled and you will be informed if this is the case. You will not be examined on any content which you have not been taught as a result of strike action. If necessary, assessments will be adjusted to take into account the impact of the strike on teaching. 

Should I submit coursework during the strike period?

You should complete and submit your coursework by the deadlines agreed as usual, even if your lecturer is taking part in the strike. In some instances, the potential absence of staff members due to strike action might make coursework impossible to complete by the agreed deadline. If this is the case, please contact your department.

Can disruption caused by strikes be counted as a mitigating circumstance?

The strike action is not a valid reason to apply for mitigating circumstances. If any of your teaching has been affected by the strike action, inform your department and this will be addressed on a case-by-case basis. We understand your concern and want to assure you that we are committed to minimising the impact of any strike action. 

If you're already in touch with your department (via a personal tutor, senior tutor, department office, wellbeing adviser, etc.), please continue to seek their support and advice. In particular, if you believe that the strike action has exacerbated any existing mitigating circumstances, you should seek advice about submitting additional evidence in support of this through your department, using the standard mitigating circumstances process. This will ensure that the Board of Examiners are fully aware and can act accordingly.  

If you're feeling any impact on your health or wellbeing and you’re not already in contact with your personal tutor, we strongly advise that you do so. Please visit the Student Support Zone for further information. 

I already have extenuating circumstances and the strikes made my condition worse. What should I do?

If you’re already in touch with your department (via a personal tutor, senior tutor, department office, wellbeing adviser, etc.), please continue to seek their support and advice. In particular, if you believe that the strike action has exacerbated any mitigating circumstances, you should seek advice about submitting additional evidence in support of this through your department, using the standard mitigating circumstances process. This willensure that the Board of Examiners are fully aware and can act accordingly.

If you’re feeling any impact on your health or wellbeing and you’re not already in contact with your personal tutor, we strongly advise that you do so. Please visit the Student Support Zone for further information.

 

I am a research student and my Early Stage Review, Late Stage Review or viva are scheduled during the strike period. What arrangements are being made?

It is possible that arrangements for the viva or reviews may be rescheduled. You are advised to discuss this with your supervisor if you have any concerns. If your supervisor is not available, there are staff within the department that have an oversight of research degree students. If you do not know who this is for your department, check with your departmental office.

I am a Tier 4 visa holder. Will industrial action affect my attendance record and visa?

UKVI Student Sponsor guidance confirms that academic activity/teaching cancelled due to industrial action should not be treated as an unauthorised absence and therefore should not affect your visa status.

Will I have to cross a picket line?

It is likely that there will be a polite picketing presence at some entrances to our campuses on the strike days. While pickets may ask you not to cross a picket line, they cannot stop you from entering the campuses or require you to engage in discussion with them. Those who wish to cross a picket line are allowed to do so. Pickets should consist of a maximum of six people on any picket line. Picketing at Imperial has always been conducted in a respectful way without any intimidation of staff, students or visitors and we're confident that this will continue.

Will there be an impact on College support services?

Most College services and facilities are expected to operate as normal during any period of industrial action. If a member of staff chooses to strike or ASOS, they may tell their department in advance, and this will help us to plan to mitigate any impact on your access to support services.   

In some specific instances, the impact of industrial action may mean that services need to reduce of change their operating hours, rearrange appointments or there may be some variation in delivery. However, such instances are expected to be minimal and every effort will be made to ensure that services are accessible as normal. 

If you have any questions not answered here, you should first get in touch with the teaching office of your Department or your personal tutor. If you still don't have the information you need, you can email strike-guidance@imperial.ac.uk. 

If you have any questions not answered here, you should first get in touch with the teaching office of your Department or your personal tutor. If you still don’t have the information you need, you can email strike-guidance@imperial.ac.uk.