Bulletin 6 - Action Short of Strike

Created on: 20 Oct 2021

SRUC Bulletin

Bulletin No. 6

Dear Member

Many of us give the employer lots of free labour, a few hours here and there; a bit of extra effort to meet a deadline, covering this or that to help colleagues, students and the institution. That needs to stop during this Action short of strike (ASOS). You are in effect withdrawing your goodwill in light of the SRUC’s failure to demonstrate its goodwill with an acceptable offer on pay and grading.  

It is as important to show strong ASOS as it is to show strong strike action. Stand firm and you will help this dispute end sooner and always remember – it is within the SRUC’s gift to resolve this dispute at any time by meeting our reasonable demands for a decent pay and grading system that meets HE sector norms and the quicker we will force SRUC to come back to the table with an offer that resolves this dispute.  

1. What is ASOS?

ASOS is industrial action short of strike action and was part of the industrial action ballot in June 2021. That ballot gave a mandate for both strike action and ASOS.

ASOS is meant to complement the strike action to leverage pressure on the SRUC to resolve the Pay & Grading dispute.

The forms of ASOS action that you voted for are: -

  • Not undertaking any goodwill activities beyond existing duties, such as overtime or lunchtime activities.
  • A resulting boycott - Not to share any assessment or exam results with the SRUC.

What this means in practice is covered in Section 6.  Everyone should be able to take part in ASOS and should do so.

2. ASOS has started and is ongoing!

ASOS commenced on 30th September and will be employed continuously until the dispute is resolved or until the end of December 2021. By law, we will then require a new industrial action ballot.

3. Who should undertake ASOS?

All EIS members are expected to participate in ASOS if they are employed by the SRUC. If you are not an EIS member but wish to take the action, you can join the EIS and still take part in the action.

4. Does ASOS imply a breach of contract and if so, can the SRUC deduct pay?

ASOS is industrial action and therefore by definition a breach of contract. ‘Working to contract’ is a grey area and any pay deductions SRUC make run the strong risk of legal challenge, as well as escalated strike action. The ‘resulting boycott’ may be subject to pay deductions for breach of contract if the SRUC states that it will reject partial performance.  

This creates further risks for the SRUC. In general, the standard Trade Union response to ASOS pay deductions is escalated strike action. The EIS is fortunate with this dispute that a strike mandate already exists.

5. Do I have to notify my employers that I will be taking ASOS?

The EIS has carried out all the legal notifications for both strike and ASOS at the SRUC. The EIS does not share individuals' names, as it is not required by law. There is no legal obligation for you as an individual employee to report that you are taking part in industrial action before doing so.  

That means that you do not need to fill out forms or take part in polls asking you about whether you are taking action in advance of taking that action. If you are asked after taking action (either strike or ASOS) you should answer honestly.

If unsure what you should report or how to report it, please contact the branch: duncanmackay.college@gmail.com

6. Working to your Contract & Resulting Boycott at the SRUC

This means being extremely strict in working exactly to what is required by your contract, which may vary according to your role or your work base at the SRUC.  The EIS advice is: -

  • Some of your work will be late, some will simply not get done. However, it is important not to make exceptions for certain work.

  • If you cannot complete all of your assigned work duties within your contracted working hours, or this prevents you from meeting deadlines, ask your line manager to instruct you what you should do first. Remember, the point of industrial action is to disrupt business as usual, that’s why it works.

  • Work exactly the number of hours per week, or day, that your contract states.

  • Make sure you take your full lunch break, every day and tea breaks too if you are due them.

  • Don’t respond to emails outside of your working hours. If you have a work phone and are not on call, switch it off to avoid temptation!

  • Do not cover for people who cannot attend events, conferences, or meetings because of them taking ASOS. Politely decline because you are also undertaking ASOS.

  • Do not cover work that colleagues taking ASOS can’t fit into their contracted hours.

  • Do not undertake voluntary activities which would take you over your normal contracted hours or outside of your shift.

  • Don’t attend breakfast or lunchtime meetings (unless your branch calls them!). You need to take your lunch breaks and work only your normal contracted hours or shift, not a minute more until the dispute is resolved.

  • If you are asked to do anything which is not in your normal role, politely decline and inform the person you are taking ASOS due to the Pay & Grading dispute.

  • Don’t read or send emails after your work hours. You are not available outside your normal contracted hours due to ASOS.

  • Do not record grades, marks and assessment for the duration of the ASOS. We know this is the hardest action you’re going to take because it hits students hardest, but hold firm. You are causing disruption, but it is disruption designed to improve your working conditions, and the pay for not just current but future academic staff.