What is industrial action?
Industrial action is the general term for collective legal actions taken by employees of a company or organisation as a protest.
Strike action is a form of industrial action where some workers who belong to a trade union collectively withdraw their labour. For academic staff, this may include class cancellation, late feedback and delays in marking assessments. Strike action takes place on defined days of which the union notifies the organisation in advance However, individual staff members are not legally required to notify the university of their intention to strike on these defined days.
'Action short of a strike' (ASOS) is where workers can incorporate action into their daily working life outside of any strike days. ASOS is determined by the union and can run simultaneously to strike action and continue until the union calls it off.
What is the current dispute about?
UCU (the trade union representing academic and some professional services staff) have declared two disputes with universities nationally. One is based on pay and conditions, and the other on the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) which is one of the sector-wide staff pension schemes.
The pay and conditions dispute relates to pay, equality, casualisation and workload. The pensions dispute relates to the rise in cost of funding the USS Pension scheme in order to pay out for the pensions already promised to our staff.
The university is continuing to address issues such as workload, equity and equality and short-term contracts, and influence issues negotiated at a national level – including pay and pensions.
What is the university’s view on the dispute?
We are disappointed by the decision of UCU to proceed with strike action, understanding how frustrating this will be for our students and staff who have settled into the academic year and return to campus after a difficult 18 months.
We are focused on doing everything we can to minimise the impact on teaching and learning, working closely with faculties and departments to provide support and help to ensure that students continue to receive the best possible experience at King’s.
We continue to strive to find a constructive and collaborative way forward, recognising that certain issues raised (such as those on pensions and pay) are negotiated and decided at a national level, so while we do our best to influence and secure the best outcome for our staff, the final decision is not ours to make.
Following an information and balanced discussion, student members voted against KCLSU supporting strike action.
When will industrial action take place and what will this mean?
The UCU’s mandate for industrial action means that we will experience both strike action and 'action short of a strike' (ASOS) at King’s.
UCU has confirmed that three days of strike action will be held on Wednesday 1 December, Thursday 2 December and Friday 3 December 2021.
ASOS is intended to be continuous and will start on Wednesday 1 December 2021 and will end no later than Tuesday 3 May 2022. At this point in time, ASOS will consist of UCU members only working their contracted hours and duties and they will not volunteer to do more than that.
It is possible that UCU will announce further strike days over the coming months, and we will update you as and when we receive notification from UCU.
How could industrial action affect me?
Not all staff will be taking industrial action so the impact will be different depending on the programme you are studying. The university is committed to doing everything possible to support students during this time and, working closely with faculties and KCLSU, will take all available measures to minimise the impact on teaching and learning.
The university will remain open, and you will continue to have access to the facilities and services on campus including informal study spaces, libraries and computer rooms. We will support you with your studies and independent learning.
Our student advice, wellbeing and welfare services will continue to be available throughout this time. We are increasing the availability of our advisors, so you will have enhanced access to support.
What happens to teaching and learning during industrial action?
Where possible, teaching and learning activities will go ahead, including the supervision of projects and dissertations, and you should attend unless you are advised otherwise from your lecturer or department.
You should also continue to submit assignments to existing deadlines.
There may be instances where sessions have to be cancelled. If they can, your faculty or department will let you know as soon as possible of any change to your timetabled session. However, we are not always in a position to inform you of any changes in advance, as staff members are not legally required to tell the university if they plan to take industrial action.
The university will remain open, and you will continue to have access to the facilities and services on campus including informal study spaces, libraries and computer rooms. We will support you with your studies and independent learning. Our student advice, wellbeing and welfare services will continue to be available to you throughout this time. We are increasing the availability of our advisors, so you will have enhanced access to support.
What if my lecture, tutorial or contact point is cancelled because of strike action?
You should make every effort to attend timetabled sessions. However, if a lecture, tutorial or other planned contact point is cancelled due to industrial action, you should make a note of it.
More information on how to complain can be found in the Complaints section.
What should I do if my lecture or class is disrupted because of strike action?
If your lecture or class is affected by strike action but still takes place (e.g. it is rescheduled) you are expected to attend unless you have been given prior permission to be absent in line with normal procedure.
How will I know if my seminar, lecture or other session is disrupted by industrial action?
Where possible, your faculty or department will let you know in advance if your session is likely to be disrupted. However, staff members are not legally required to tell the university if they intend to take industrial action so it may not be possible to let you know in advance.
Important to know:
- If a staff member does not arrive for the start of a teaching session, you should wait a few minutes to make sure your lecturer is not late before leaving the room.
- If a lecture, tutorial or other planned contact point is cancelled due to industrial action, please make a note of it.
Will I still be able to access campus during industrial action?
The university will remain open, and you will continue to have access to the facilities and services on campus including informal study spaces, libraries and computer rooms.
We will support you with your studies and independent learning. Our student advice, wellbeing and welfare services will continue to be available throughout this time and we are increasing the availability of our advisors, so you will have enhanced access to support.
If your teaching session has been cancelled, we encourage you to still come to campus. You will be able to work with classmates and benefit from other campus learning facilities as normal.
Will my examination dates or hand-in deadlines for assessments change?
Assessments will go ahead as planned during industrial action. You are expected to complete all assessments and submit all assignments, in accordance with the university's Academic Regulations. Normal penalities will apply to coursework that is not submitted by the appropriate deadline.
Unless informed otherwise, all deadlines for coursework will remain and you should plan to submit your work accordingly.
If some submission deadlines and supervision sessions are affected by strike action, your faculty or department will inform you of the changes.
Will my work be assessed/marked within the normal turnaround period?
Our aim is that all work will be assessed within the usual turnaround times. However, we appreciate that some assessments and feedback may be delayed if they coincide with a period of strike action.
Your faculty or department will monitor the situation and give you revised dates for assessments and/or feedback if there are any delays.
If my sessions are disrupted and not rescheduled, how can I be assessed on those topics in examinations or assessments?
For your assessments and exams, we will ensure that you are not disadvantaged if you have missed any learning due to strike action, while of course maintaining our quality and high standards.
Could my module marks be affected?
Faculties or departments will assess if industrial action has impacted on the learning and assessment of each module. We will ensure that students are not disadvantaged if learning has been missed due to strike action.
Will I be entitled to an extension for coursework, dissertations or other submissions of work due to industrial action?
Deadlines set for submitting work, including dissertations, still apply as normal. Your faculty or department will aim to maintain assessment deadlines but will also look at whether there are any instances in which revised deadlines may be appropriate for you.
Assessments due during industrial action will not be granted automatic extensions.
What if an in-class assessment (including oral examinations & presentations) does not take place because of industrial action?
If an in-class assessment is cancelled because of strike action, faculties or departments will ensure that the assessment of these learning outcomes is rescheduled as far as possible or assessed by other means.
In some cases, it may not be possible for in-class assessment to be rescheduled, in which case the module will be assessed without the mark for the cancelled assessment (with other marks being rescaled proportionately).
I'm a postgraduate research student. What if the oral examination for my thesis is disrupted?
Should postgraduate research oral examinations coincide with the industrial action, the should be rescheduled at the earliest opportunity. Your department will give you details of the arrangements.
Could my award be affected by industrial action?
No, your award will not be affected. All final module marks will be used in the degree algorithm, as normal. There are no exceptions to the award rules. Classification boundaries will not change as a consequence of industrial action.
How will the industrial action affect my visa in terms of my attendance record?
Your Student visa conditions are not affected by the industrial action. Unless you are told that a session has been disrupted, you should attend as normal, and the normal processes for attendance monitoring will apply to undisrupted sessions.
If a session is disrupted due to industrial action, this will be recorded by the university as a cancelled session, and this will not have a detrimental impact on your attendance record for the purposes of your Student visa.
If your lecture or class is cancelled, you will be recorded as an ‘authorised absence’. You should make a note of the cancelled lecture or class.
I'm a visiting study abroad/exchange student. How could industrial action affect me?
The university will remain open, and you will continue to have access to the facilities and services on campus including informal study spaces, libraries and computer rooms to enable you to continue your studies and independent learning.
Where possible, teaching will go ahead, but there may be instances where sessions have to be cancelled. The university will ensure that no student’s academic outcomes are disadvantaged by the industrial action.
Will I still be able to get access to student services?
Student services will be available throughout any strike action period and we are increasing the availability of our advisors, so you will have enhanced access to support. More information on how to access specific services can be found on Student Services Online. Students can also access impartial and confidential academic advice support services through our Student Union advice webpage.
Where can I go for support?
We understand that industrial action can cause additional stress and pressure on top of your studies. You may wish to speak to your department or the following services:
- Advice & Guidance Team – For advice relating to your studies, including financial and immigration advice
- Wellbeing and Welfare – You can book an appointment with our team of advisors to discuss and support your personal wellbeing
- Chaplaincy – Emotional support and practised listeners for students of all faiths and none
- Togetherall – 24-hour confidential online support and wellbeing service
- KCLSU Advice – Impartial academic advice for students with issues affecting their studies
If you are struggling with your mental health, you can register for counselling appointments and access different support options at student mental health support. A range of support is available outside King’s usual working hours (9:00-17:00, Monday to Friday). For more information, including about our out-of-hours counselling service Pro-Counselling, please visit our article on Mental health support during evening, weekends & vacation periods.
Important to know: The services listed above are not able to answer questions about the industrial action.
Can I complain for any possible disruption from this industrial action?
The university remains committed to delivering an educational programme for each student during any period of industrial action and it will seek to ensure that students remain able to complete their programmes of study, progress and graduate as anticipated.
There is a specific process and complaint form for raising a complaint in relation to industrial action. Details are available on the Student Complaints webpage, including timeframes for submitting your complaint.
Important to know: Faculties and departments are unable to deal with any complaints, and these should be directed through the identified process.
Do I need to submit a Mitigating Circumstances Form where my teaching/classes has/have been cancelled due to industrial action?
No, it is not expected that you will need to submit a Mitigating Circumstances Form (MCF) due to strike action as your department will put in place measures to provide mitigation for all students in this situation.
However, there may be very limited exceptional circumstances where you believe that you have been more severely impacted due to your personal circumstances, and it has unduly affected your assessments.
If this is the case, you should contact your department in the first instance to discuss this. Your department may be able to provide more information on what steps have been taken and will let you know if they think that you have exceptional circumstances, where an MCF may be appropriate, in which case they will support you to complete it.
I feel worried about crossing a picket line. What should I do?
Students should not feel intimidated about crossing any picket line. People on the picket line can ask for permission to explain their dispute to students and staff coming in and out of our buildings but this activity must be carried out peacefully at all times. Our security staff will continue to be available to support students and staff as usual.
If you do feel intimidated in any way or witness any behaviour you find concerning, please contact the security at your campus.
If you feel that you have been the target of harassment or bullying, you can find relevant help at Dignity at King's.
Who can I send questions to?
If you have any questions or concerns that are not answered here, please contact us by submitting an enquiry through our online enquiry form.
When asked what your enquiry is about, please select ‘Other’, then ‘All other enquiries’, to help us get your question to the right team.