I was on strike, you just didn't notice I had gone

April 14, 2011

When is a strike not a strike? The answer may be when no one notices your absence.

After recent industrial action by the University and College Union, a union representative at the University of Nottingham wrote to members urging them to register their absence with managers in case they had not been missed.

In an email published by the student magazine Impact, Mike Byrne, branch secretary of the UCU, says: "In our sector the point of a one-day strike is largely missed if institutions do not get a clear indication from everyone who participated...The fact is that in many cases our absence may not have been noticed!"

Dr Byrne told Times Higher Education that he was making the point that on any given day only a minority of lecturers had classes timetabled.

"While cancelled classes are a very visible sign of industrial action, strike action taken by colleagues who are not teaching on that day is far less visible," he said.

"These staff will be working on research or administrative duties, and the nature of these duties is such that their presence or absence on a given day will often not be noticed."

He added that there was "a very good level of support from members who attended picket lines" on the days of the strike action at Nottingham on 22 and 24 March.

Similar strikes have been held at other universities, over job security, pay and pensions.

However, the efficacy of one-day strikes has been questioned by some THE readers.

Writing in an online comment thread, one calls for more sustained action: "One-day strikes achieve very little. A national open-ended walk out and refusal to mark final papers is what is needed to concentrate the minds of management and government."

But others questioned whether this would have the desired effect.

"I don't think there's much support or sympathy for academics, out amongst the public," a second reader writes. "The reality is that everyone across the public and private sector is feeling the pinch, and academics have to take a hit like everyone else is doing."

john.gill@tsleducation.com.

You've reached your article limit.

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 3 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments
Register

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Featured Jobs

Most Commented

Monster behind man at desk

Despite all that’s been done to improve doctoral study, horror stories keep coming. Here three students relate PhD nightmares while two academics advise on how to ensure a successful supervision

Sir Christopher Snowden, former Universities UK president, attacks ratings in wake of Southampton’s bronze award

celebrate, cheer, tef results

Emilie Murphy calls on those who challenged the teaching excellence framework methodology in the past to stop sharing their university ratings with pride

Reflection of man in cracked mirror

To defend the values of reason from political attack we need to be more discriminating about the claims made in its name, says John Hendry

But the highest value UK spin-off companies mainly come from research-intensive universities, latest figures show