As you are aware, on the basis of a 77% mandate, UCU began national official industrial action in October 2011. The first phase of this action was work-to-contract (action short of strike). This action was suspended in February 2012, in order that negotiations could be entered into.
UCU Congress (HE sector conference) recently decided that the talks so far had failed to deliver any concrete proposals to improve the changes to the USS pension scheme that had been imposed by the employers.
As a result, the work-to-contract action was resumed on Monday 18 June.
Details of what work-to-contract entails can be found here: http://defenduss.web.ucu.org.uk/faqs/
As this is official action it comes with legal protection against attempts by employers to undertake disciplinary action.
Birmingham University UCU have already confirmed at an all-members’ meeting that any performance evaluation schemes going beyond the negotiated Staff Development Review (SDR) constitutes a new performance management regime that has not been agreed to by BUCU and therefore goes beyond our employment contracts. UCU members are therefore instructed as follows:
Any performance evaluation of any UCU member at the University of Birmingham that goes beyond the negotiated Staff Development Review (SDR) should NOT be participated in. Importantly, this includes the pilot PDR scheme, which should NOT be participated in.
The University have already been informed that action beyond the SDR is outside of staff’s contractual obligations and that UCU members will therefore not be participating in them as part of the official national work-to-contract action.
Any problems associated with these actions should be immediately reported to BUCU.
Please note that if any employer chooses to ignore UCU’s legal advice and threathens punitive deductions against staff who are working to contract, UCU’s response will be to (a) halt the working to contract action and bring forward with immediate effect rotating departmental/faculty/site or unit-based strike action, as agreed with branches; (b) bring test cases on behalf of all members to recover any deductions made unlawfully. In extreme cases where this escalation fails to persuade an employer not to make unfair deductions for working to contract, members will be invited to seek an international academic boycott of their institution by other staff.