Following a referendum of members, the Reading University Students’ Union (RUSU) has confirmed its support for University & College Union (UCU) industrial action in relation to the pensions and pay disputes.
I completely understand that these issues are very sensitive matters for my colleagues, and that some of our student community wish to show their support for staff undertaking industrial action in recognition of the valuable contribution they make to their teaching and learning. Some students will also be worried, quite naturally, about the impact of the action on their studies.
As an institution, we remain committed to mitigating the disruption as far as we reasonably can for our whole community – students and colleagues – including those who support the action and those who do not.
The two issues being disputed are both complex. Whatever your views, I would encourage you to read more information, if you haven’t done so already, published on our student Essentials webpages.
I understand that RUSU will be providing further advice about how students can support the industrial action if they wish to do so. With this in mind, I wanted to clarify some important points that you need to know:
- Picket lines: As this is an employment-based dispute, only workers and trade union officials are lawfully allowed to participate in picket lines. Students may not join any pickets, except in a small number of cases where they are also employed by the University.
- Class attendance: Students are expected to attend all scheduled teaching as normal, unless you are advised otherwise. If your class doesn’t take place, you can report it to us using our online form, so we can keep a record and offer the best support we can. Refusal to ‘cross the picket line’ will not be accepted as an authorised absence from a class that does take place during the action.
- Respectful behaviour: In previous periods of industrial action, our community has acted respectfully regardless of our individual view points and I am sure we will do so again. Our #NeverOK campaign sets out our commitment to ensuring that our campuses are inclusive, supportive and respectful places of work for our students and staff. We do not tolerate any form of bullying or harassment, and this dispute will be no exception.
In my recent video message I emphasised that, despite differences of opinion, we are all part of one community, with the best interests of our students and colleagues at heart.
Professor Robert Van de Noort