While a strike is a concerted stoppage of work (i.e. not going to work), action short of a strike is normally action which affects only certain aspects of your work (i.e. going to work but refusing to do certain tasks).
‘Action short of a strike’ is the statutory term given to this type of industrial action. EIS-FELA is not suspending strike action but wants to escalate the action being taken to include action short of a strike.
Our proposal is for a specific form of industrial action, namely a resulting boycott and the withdrawal of ‘goodwill’. If members vote for this escalation in the ballot, the boycott would mean that all EIS members would be asked not to enter the results of assessments into the college results system. This would include results from both formative and summative assessments, for both internal and external purposes.
The withdrawal of goodwill would mean that members would not be completing those activities which they voluntarily undertake. This refers to those activities which do not form part of your contract of employment but which you complete as a mark of goodwill.
In law, a withdrawal of goodwill is a breach of contract, hence why a statutory ballot is required in order to gain an industrial action mandate
We need a further ballot as the previous ballot, arising from this dispute, was for strike action only. To proceed with industrial action short of strike action, the law requires us to hold another ballot.
As with the first ballot, a minimum of 50% of members must vote, with a majority voting in favour of this form of escalation of industrial action. Not voting is effectively a vote against escalation and will put the negotiators in a weaker position.
This second ballot will also be a postal ballot as required by the legislation.
We had hoped that management would engage in meaningful negotiations before any strike days were required – sadly this has not happened. Industrial action is a last resort, and when we take it, we want to make sure it is as effective as possible.
We are not suspending strike action, in fact, quite the opposite – we have already announced further days of action in March and will escalate further after Easter if required.
We believe that by the withdrawal of goodwill and by adding a resulting boycott to our strategy of escalating strike action, further pressure will be brought to bear on management to make a reasonable offer. We would ask for the support of all members – the stronger we are as a collective, the better chance there is of a resolution.
If you are a promoted member of staff, your support is even more important if this action is to be successful. We would ask that you respect the resulting boycott for your own classes, and also that you refuse to undertake this work for other lecturers participating in industrial action, i.e. that you do not enter results into the system on behalf of others or those whom you line manage. We recognise that some promoted staff members may feel that they are vulnerable to undue pressure and in these circumstances, we would urge you to contact your local rep or EIS HQ and we will do everything we can to support you.
No, this is NOT an assessment boycott. All assessments should be conducted as normal, although we recognise that some may be rescheduled as a result of strike days. Marking, student feedback and remediation/resits should not be affected by the resulting boycott. The action is solely about withholding results from college systems.
This would apply to the processing of all results, regardless of when the assessments are completed. The action focuses on the reporting of results and not the assessment process.
There are several reasons why we have chosen a resulting boycott, rather than a more general ‘work to rule’. Firstly, it can be difficult to define a ‘work to rule’ – this is a national dispute, but many aspects of college lecturers’ T&C remain local, so there are differences across the college sector. From a practical perspective, a ‘work to rule’ is also more difficult to monitor in terms of its impact.
Secondly, we considered the impact of this action on students. While we recognise that a resulting boycott will inevitably affect students and cause concern, it will not affect students’ ability to complete their qualifications – an assessment boycott (as opposed to a resulting boycott) would mean that students would not receive feedback and some may run out of time for remediation and resits.
Feedback from members who took sustained strike action in April and May 2017 highlighted the significant pressure on them to ‘catch up’ with classes which had been missed, despite being deducted pay for these missed classes - without additional time or pay. We believe that escalating industrial action through a resulting boycott brings additional pressure on management, without having the potential to add to lecturers’ workloads. Lecturers will mark and give feedback to students as normal, and we would advise members to record results securely but not to add these results to the college system. On resolution of the dispute, the results will then be entered into the system.
Firstly, please make sure your students know what the strike is about and encourage them to sign the Fair Pay Petition (link to materials).
You should give your students their normal feedback, either verbally or in written form, and you can tell your students whether they have passed, their grade and whether they have remediation or resits to complete. All we would ask is that you communicate this directly to the students and do not enter it in college resulting systems – i.e. speak to the students, give them written or emailed feedback, but do not enter results in Moodle Gradebook, post on a noticeboard etc.
You should advise your students of the resulting boycott and ask them to contact their MSP and to contact Richard Lochhead. They can email them or contact them via twitter, urging them to help resolve the dispute.
If, at the conclusion of the statutory ballot, there is a mandate to pursue action short of a strike in the form of a resulting boycott, then we will ask you:
not to put your own results into the college system, and
not to enter anyone else’s results on their behalf, and
If the college requests your results, you should explain that you are participating in EIS industrial action, and will not therefore input the results.
As the action proceeds, there may be a range of practical questions which arise which will vary from branch to branch dependant on local arrangements. We would urge you to discuss any issues arising with your local respresentative who may wish to seek further advice from EIS Headquarters.
All industrial action is a breach of contract, and in return the employer may deduct pay.
Industrial action short of strike is a breach of contract as you are only carrying out some of your contracted duties – this is known as partial performance. Your employer can write to you and state that it will not accept partial performance and that it will deduct some or all of your pay. This is known as ‘deeming’. If it does this, then it should also advise you that you may choose not to go to work.
Deeming is risky for employers
In the event that a member is informed that she/he is being deemed to be in breach of contract as a result of action short of strike action, the member would be advised to contact his local representative immediately who will alert HQ.
The member should continue as normal with other duties not affected by industrial action guidelines but indicate that she/he is working under protest. Thereafter additional advice and action will be issued by EIS HQ.
Whilst it is not possible to cover every scenario in detail, the Institute has traditionally responded to the threat or reality of deeming with an escalation to strike action.
If a member is treated in this way, or suffers any detriment due to participation in this industrial action, she/he will receive the full support of the EIS.
You can claim unfair dismissal at an employment tribunal if you're dismissed for taking industrial action at any time within the 12 weeks after the action began.
Your local representatives and Full Time Officials will be available to support you with any questions which you have about participating in this action. Taking action short of a strike does not mean that you can refuse a reasonable request from your employer to undertake something, which is not a specified aspect of the industrial action. How reasonable any request is will depend on the terms of your contract and custom and practice. If in doubt or if your actions are challenged by someone senior to you, temporarily suspend your action and contact your branch who will seek further advice.
The resulting boycott applies to all students on all courses. If you have concerns, please contact your local EIS rep who will seek further advice.
A consequence may be that insufficient information is available to allow UCAS applications to be processed and SQA certification to be completed. This can be prevented by college management engaging in meaningful negotiation to deliver a fair cost of living pay rise for our members. We are giving advance notice of this action to management to allow maximum opportunity to resolve this dispute.
You should take the action which you would normally follow in these circumstances by alerting college management to a potentially unauthorised entry of results.
You should continue to observe local policies regarding the retention and storage of assessment material.
You should continue to comply with internal and external verification. This is a distinct procedure from assessment and from the action covered by the statutory ballot.
Much will depend on the system which is in place and the policy surrounding completion of marking. Some online systems may also allow for copies to be printed out and marked in hard copy. If your college operates exclusively a system of online marking, then please contact your local representative who can seek further advice.
Much will depend on the arrangements in place for assessment and the reporting of results. Please contact your local representative who can seek further advice on the specific circumstances of your arrangements.