Reading University UCU Rotating Header Image

January, 2023:

Strike FAQ 2023

UCU members will be on strike on the following six days of action:

  • Wednesday 15, Thursday 16 and Friday 17 March
  • Monday 20, Tuesday 21 and Wednesday 22 March

UCU HQ Strike FAQs

Physical Pickets 

We will be running physical pickets every strike day from Thurs 16th March (i.e. 16th, 17th, 20th, 21st, 22nd) at both Shinfield Road and Earley Gate between setting up from 8 a.m. and running till approx. 9.30 a.m. Please note, there is no physical picket on 15th March,  instead we are hosting a online teach out and organising a branch outing to the London march and rally.

Wednesday 15 March – London march and rally. If you can, we would love to see as many members as possible at the London march and rally, organised by NEU and supported by a host of sibling unions. Further details can be found hereUCU branches will be assembling at Speakers’ Corner from 11.30 a.m. We’ll then move as a union block up the road to join NEU who are assembling by Grosvenor House Marriott Hotel, Park Lane 12 noon.The route map is here and in summary is a family friendly walking route, which takes all to Trafalgar Square for a rally and carnival.  Please also check your inbox for details on branch meeting points.

Virtual Pickets 

Wednesday 15 March – online teach-out 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. ‘Art of Resistance’ (Hosted by Deepa with special guest Andy Worthington, journalist). If not travelling to the London rally, please do come along to this special teach-out 10 a.m. to 11 a.m

Friday 17 March 8.30 to 10 a.m. – with link to our physical pickets

Wednesday 22 Mar 8.30 to 10 a.m. – with link to our physical pickets

A virtual picket is an inclusive way to make a day of industrial action/ strike count by:
– starting new conversations
– making friends
– building confidence
– building a sense of togetherness
– providing an opportunity to learn about USS pensions dispute, unions and workers rights, e.g. via teach outs.

UCU CPD Teach Outs

Challenging Excessive Workload in Education Thursday 16 March 4:00pm-5:30pm click here to book *Teach Out session*

Decarbonise and Decolonise Monday 20 March 10:30am-12 noon click here to book *Teach Out session*

Collectively Challenging Disability Discrimination Tuesday 21 March 10:30am-12 noon click here to book *Teach Out session*

Emails and Outlook forwarding

Please find guidance here on how to set up auto forwarding during the strike days if your usual mode of communication for Reading UCU is your work email. This means you will receive any updates from us without having to access your work email account. Please note, if the redirect is not working, please try setting the redirect rule to work for the following email address also:, as well as adding the email addresses of RUCU, our Branch Officers (Sally, Nat) and our administrator (Colette), to your ‘safe list’ in outlook.

Resources for students

-RUCU Student leaflet 2023 Student Info PDF

-USS FAQs (includes What is the USS dispute about?)

-UCU template/example PPT slides: Reading UCU IA LECTURE SLIDE 2023

Strike out-of-office

Members may want to use the following template, checked by our Regional Office:

I am not able to check email today as members of Reading UCU are taking industrial action in opposition to the devastating cuts to our pension scheme. The value of the staff USS pension has been unnecessarily cut by an average 35%. Members of Reading UCU will be on strike on the following days – please do not email on these days as I will not be able to respond to emails sent to me on strike days on my return.

If you would like more information about the dispute, please visit UCU – FAQs. If you are a student, please do contact to find out what steps the University is taking to avoid a dispute, we are urgently looking for meaningful negotiations so that we can all return to work. If you are a student affected by strike action, you can also contact the Students’ Union for independent advice and support at 

Members may also want to upload and use the UCU USS email signature banner: ucuRISING_EmailBanner_600px_04_USS_221103.png (600×150)

Informing the University about your strike action

Members are under no obligation to inform HR, or indeed any other member of staff, about their intentions to undertake strike action if you are going to be on strike. If a manager asks, you can politely decline to answer that question in advance of taking part in any forthcoming action.

Members also do not need to notify the Director of HR, or anyone else, immediately after every day of strike action if strike days are consecutive. Our first day of strike action is on Wed 15th March. After that period of strike action, if full time, your next day of work would be Thursday 23rd March. That’s the day to confirm that you have taken part in action, once you have been asked to notify. If you work part-time, then you would notify, if asked, the next day that you are scheduled to work after this period of strike action.

See the relevant UCU Strike FAQ here:

Action Short of A Strike

Please see the ASOS FAQ on the national UCU website here:’action_short_of_a_strike’_(ASOS)

Staff will begin action short of a strike (ASOS) from Wednesday 23 November onwards at institutions in England, Wales and Scotland.

Action short of a strike will consist of the following until further notice:

  • working to contract
  • not covering for absent colleagues
  • removing uploaded materials related to, and/or not sharing materials related to, lectures or classes that will be or have been cancelled as a result of strike action
  • not rescheduling lectures or classes cancelled due to strike action
  • not undertaking any voluntary activities.

In terms of ​rescheduling, the national UCU FAQs linked above state that by ‘lectures or classes’ we mean any activity between any UCU member and a student or group of students which involves any instruction, tuition, communicating or sharing of knowledge or guidance.

This includes teaching which would have taken place on one of UCU’s strike days and covers instructional activities undertaken by UCU members who are academic-related professional services staff, as well as academic staff. You should, if asked, refuse to reschedule such sessions, stating that you are supporting UCU’s action short of a strike.

If someone else such as a line manager or head of department has already scheduled your classes, the FAQ state that once the action has started you should not teach rescheduled classes whoever has rescheduled them.

It is reasonable to assume that instructions for staff to make ‘arrangements’ to make up for any cancelled teaching sessions is a request to reschedule teaching using different phraseology. As a consequence, the advice on the UCU FAQs would apply, “You should, if asked, refuse to reschedule such sessions, stating that you are supporting UCU’s action short of a strike.” Making alternative arrangements would undermine the strike action that members are taking.

In addition, members could:

(i) ask their line manager when this work could possibly be done, given that members are working to contract and not doing any unpaid overtime

(ii) ask what activities will need to be relinquished if this request was to be fulfilled

(iii) ask the employer where re-scheduled classes should be situated, given the pressure on space in many universities

(iv) ask how staff are meant to ensure that their additional sessions do not clash with those organised by their colleagues.

The national UCU FAQS also outline that the reasonability of any request will depend on the terms of your contract and custom and practice. If in doubt, or if your actions are challenged by someone senior to you, you should temporarily suspend your action and contact your branch who will seek further advice.

As a result, please do not hesitate to get in touch for support if you need to, for example by contacting the Branch Administrator in the first instance. We can ask for additional guidance from our regional office on your behalf.

UCU Picketing guidance

What is the law on picketing?