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Arrangements for Strike Days

We will be walking out on Monday 25 November until Wednesday 4 December, as both our employer and their representatives have proved utterly unwilling to come to the negotiating table and meet our demands over pay, pensions and working conditions.

We understand that it is an uncertain time for all of us, and we wanted to share with you practical guidance and advice for the strike days ahead.

In this longer-than-usual email, we have compiled all the essential information you will need to know for the strike period (and have added extra detail in a print-friendly supporting document), but if in doubt please refer to the BUCU Strike Page on our website or the national UCU FAQs, or contact our branch administrator Russ at admin@birminghamucu.org

Pre-strike preparations

It’s a fast-moving time for our branch. We will be sending essential information via email. You can also keep in touch with us by joining our Birmingham UCU members’ WhatsApp group, liking our Facebook Page and following us on Twitter.

And if you can spare the time, please join us between 3 and 5 pm on Friday, LR 5, Arts Building, for a fun, creative placard making session. This is also a great opportunity to meet other members and get more involved in the strike.


  • On Monday 25 November (and all subsequent strike days), please go to our temporary Strike Office from 8am onwards (St Francis’ Hall, next to the Guild of Students O2 on campus map)
  • Register attendance.
  • Pick up strike materials before you set off (picket ID, leaflets, placards,flag, etc.)
  • Grab a cup of tea & coffee in the Strike Office.
  • Toilets and seating will also be available here.
  • If you normally travel to campus by car, you can still park in your usual spot.


We aim to picket all major University buildings (e.g. Muirhead Tower, Arts Building, Watson Building, Biosciences, the Medical School, etc) from 08:30-12:00 on every day during the strike, and you can collect placards as well as register at our temporary Strike Office at St Francis Hall Chaplaincy (next to the Guild on Edgbaston Park Road) from 08:00 am on strike days.

Members of the BUCU Committee will act as Picket Supervisors for the strike: check with them if you’re unsure of anything. We encourage all members to attend picket lines: visibility is key to winning, and students are likely to want to chat to us about the dispute. And of course, it’ll be fun!

Making picketing more accessible

We appreciate that being outside for extended periods of time, often standing up, and holding placards can be challenging. Here’s some advice on how to make that process easier:

  • Wrap up warm! And it will rain, so bring an umbrella!
  • Feel free to bring along a small camping chair or similar if you need one, but do take care not to block the pavement or prevent anyone else’s access to the building
  • We will be providing a hot snack and hot drinks to picketers daily!
  • If you have a medical condition that might require immediate access to a toilet, feel free to use the one closest to you regardless of whether or not it is behind a picket
  • Remember that St Francis Hall Chaplaincy and the facilities of the Student Guild (toilets/shop/coffee facilities) are all ‘neutral spaces’ that you are free to use throughout strike days.
  • Feel free to take a break from the picket if you need one.
  • Please read and familiarise yourself with UCU’s guidance on picketing. If doubt, please call the picket supervisor.

Strike Day Rallies

  • We will be holding a strike rally at midday on the Green Heart on every strike day.
  • At the rally you can expect to hear speeches from staff, students, union leaders and politicians, as well as some great music and entertainment.
  • Please aim to get to the rally point before midday. Members are encouraged to make their way to the Green Heart in their picket teams.
  • Please remember to bring your placards and enthusiasm so that we can make sure everyone on campus knows about our strike!

Teach Outs

We’re thrilled to be putting together a programme of alternative events for strike days. Members of staff and students from across the University will be delivering talks in Selly Oak and Stirchley venues in the afternoons of all strike days on a whole host of topics that showcase some of the fascinating work we do here.

As soon as the programme is fully finalised, we’ll share it with you – in the meantime, if you’d like to volunteer to deliver a talk, workshop, arrange for an external speaker, or facilitate a reading group please input the details by midday on Thursday 21 November. If you have any questions, contact Amy Burge on dramyburge@gmail.com

UCU Fighting Fund

How to claim from the national fighting fund:

  • You will not be able to claim until after your employer has deducted money from you for participating in the strikes.
  • To claim from the fund, you need to make sure that you are in the right subscription category for your salary and membership status. To update your membership details, please visit MyUCU.
  • If you are a student member who works for your institution, you may need to update your membership category from ‘student member’ to full member. Please go to the UCU membership eligibility page for more information about your eligibility for the fund.
  • To submit a claim, please visit the UCU fighting fund 2019 page, but make sure you read our full fighting fund guidance document before doing so.

If you have the means, please also consider donating to the fighting fund to support other members.

Our local hardship fund is being built through member donations and is intended for those in especially precarious circumstances. If you or any family or friends can afford to donate to it, please get in touch with us at admin@birminghamucu.org 

We will provide additional guidance on the local fund on strike days.

Out of Office

If you would like to set an out-of-office reply prior to going on strike (remember: don’t check your emails while on strike!), please see the suggested template below:     

‘Thank you for your email.

I am currently unavailable as I am striking over both pensions and pay and working conditions. The strike action has been called from Monday 25 November to Wednesday 4 December in response to disputes centring on changes to the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) and universities’ failure to make improvements on pay, equality, casualisation and workloads. The UCU national demands focus on pay, working conditions and pensions.

The University of Birmingham is central to the dispute: its vice-chancellor, Professor David Eastwood, is the Chair of the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS), who hold direct responsibility in the ongoing pensions dispute. You can support us by joining UCU and taking part in strike action.

If you are a student, I will respond to your email on my return — though you may have to be patient as following the strike I will be working strictly to contract taking ‘action short of a strike’. Otherwise, I will not be reading this email, and will delete it, unread, on my return.’

Guidance on how to set-up out-of-office replies for Outlook is available here [link: https://support.office.com/en-gb/article/Send-automatic-out-of-office-replies-from-Outlook-9742f476-5348-4f9f-997f-5e208513bd67#bkmk01].

Removing Panopto recordings

At our members meeting on the 12 Nov, we passed a members motions to boycott Panopto under the terms of the national Action Short of Strike action. This is especially crucial during the strike period. We have discussed this will student groups and are advising members to make specific links available to students with disabilities and special circumstances. Please read our online guide on how to temporarily take down your recordings and change your privacy settings so that they can only be accessed by students with a unique link: https://birminghamucu.org/2019/11/20/panopto-boycott-a-practical-guide/

Notifying the University

You are NOT required to formally notify anyone in advance of 25th November that you are intending to take action. If your manager asks you in advance, you can reply that your union has advised you that you shouldn’t answer this.

You should NOT notify HR or input this information into New Core.