Industrial action questions

Get answers to common questions about strikes taking place at Sussex over five days in March 2022.

Essential information

Here are the main points relating to the industrial action.

Dates of strike action

Strike action is taking place at 68 universities including Sussex (out of a possible 140), from Monday 21 March to Friday 25 March 2022.

Choosing to take industrial action is a legal right for Sussex staff members and of course the University respects that.

Action short of a strike (ASOS)

Members of the University and College Union (UCU) may also take part in action short of a strike (known as ASOS) for a longer period, up until May 2022.

ASOS typically means staff carry out their core duties but do not take on any additional responsibilities (such as covering absent colleagues or taking part in voluntary activities). This means some staff may decline to do things that are not seen as part of their normal working practices.

Action short of a strike should not have an impact on your scheduled teaching or assessment. You can continue to speak to your tutors, arrange to see them or get the support you need to complete your modules.

Some teaching and learning may be affected

We will do everything possible to minimise the impact on your studies and the running of University services over any period of industrial action.

Many students will not be affected by strike action and will be able to continue their teaching and learning as normal. Others may notice that some lectures and seminars are cancelled during industrial action due to staff choosing to go on strike.

During strike action, unless you have been told by your School or you have seen that a teaching session is cancelled on Sussex Direct or Canvas, you should continue to attend your lectures, seminars, lab sessions or other scheduled teaching activities.

Regularly check Sussex Direct or Canvas to see if your lecturer has given advance notice that your class is not taking place.

All of our non-academic services, such as the Library, student support, 24/7 security, residences, receptions, school offices, catering and sports facilities, will provide services for students.

Why some lecturers are striking

The strikes are related to pensions and pay and conditions, and are not things we can solve here at Sussex.

Both pensions and pay for many staff working at universities across the UK are set by national bodies. As such they are negotiated by teams of representatives who act on behalf of the majority of universities collectively.

Because of this, Sussex only has a small amount of influence over these matters.

Management at Sussex can’t resolve the issues

The issues around pensions and pay are very complex and require national agreements between UCU and all affected employers (around 140 organisations for pay/conditions and 340 for the pension scheme).

Improving working conditions for staff

Improving the work environment for all staff is something we care about deeply – and a number of projects are underway to improve the working and study environments for staff and students.

However, we have only a certain amount of money and resources, and we have to be able to balance delivering the best education and student experience for our students with the income we receive.

Extra questions

These are some of the questions relating to the industrial action.

How will this affect my classes?

Your lecturers and tutors may notify you if they are going on strike and are cancelling a class, however they are not legally required to do so.

Attend your classes as usual unless you hear otherwise.

Check Sussex Direct or Canvas to see if your lecturer has given advance notice that your class is not taking place.

Will I be able to get on to campus?

Yes, the campus will be open as normal. We expect there to be a small number of striking staff at the two entrances to campus. This is known as a picket line. The picket line is organised by the union to encourage staff not to work and to join the strike. Pickets are not allowed to stop people entering campus and you will be able to pass freely.

If you feel you are unable to pass freely please raise your concern with security.

Will this affect my assessments?

Assessments and examinations will be amended to ensure you are not assessed on any content that may not be delivered because of industrial action. Any assessments that are due to take place during the strike period, but do not take place, will be rescheduled to take place as soon as possible after the strike finishes. You will be told by your School if any assessments that are due to take place during the strike period will not take place or if they are to be replaced with alternative arrangements.

There will not be a change in deadlines for assessments due on strike days that are to be handed in through Turnitin or Canvas, unless you have been notified by your School.

The Exceptional Circumstances scheme is designed for sudden and unforeseen occurrences that impact on assessments – and we therefore do not envisage students using the Exceptional Circumstances scheme for strike-related issues.

Will I be penalised for missing lectures cancelled because of industrial action?

No. You will not be penalised for non-attendance where classes were cancelled due to the industrial action.

Will buses and trains be running as normal?

Buses travel to the University throughout industrial action.

We expect that buses will not enter campus between 6.30am and 3pm on strike days. Between 6.30am and 3pm (in other words, in the mornings and until early afternoon) buses are likely to stop just outside campus on the A27 slip road and then near Falmer Station.

For service updates, see the Brighton & Hove Buses website. We suggest you allow more time than usual to get to campus by bus.

Trains are due to run as normal on strike days.

Campus transport for disabled people

A wheelchair-accessible minibus will be provided on strike days between 9.30am and 3.30pm.

The minibus will largely use the campus bus stops and will travel around the campus every 30 minutes. Check a map of the route [PDF].

The bus is free to use and can be used by anyone with access needs. Please show a sunflower/red lanyard, Helping Hand card or similar if your disability is less obvious.

If you have a disability and your access to campus is disrupted, see the latest information on the Student Support Unit web pages.

If you are still unable to get to campus using the above transport arrangements due to your disability, we can arrange a return taxi journey from your home to campus. Call 01273 877466 between 10am and 3pm.

Can students cross the picket line?

Yes, students can cross a picket line. Picket lines are allowed by law (the recommended limit per picket line is six) and must operate peacefully.

Those on the picket line cannot stop people walking past, so please don’t worry about getting around campus – you are entitled to move around freely and the picket line won’t stop you from doing so.

The University will remain open and we are confident everyone will continue to be respectful and kind.

See more from Industrial action at Sussex