Human Resources

Industrial action for Sussex staff

Find out why the strikes are happening and what industrial action means for members of staff at the University.

University and College Union (UCU) has announced 18 days of strike action from 1 February 2023 and Sussex is one of 150 universities where its members have voted in favour of industrial action over pay and working conditions, and one of 67 who is taking strike action is relation to pensions.

The full strike dates are:

  • Week 1 – Wednesday 1 February
  • Week 2 – Thursday 9 and Friday 10 February
  • Week 3 – Tuesday 14, Wednesday 15 and Thursday 16 February
  • Week 4 – Tuesday 21,Wednesday 22 and Thursday 23 February
  • Week 5 – Monday 27 and Tuesday 28 February and Wednesday 1 and Thursday 2 March
  • No action week commencing Monday 6 March
  • Week 6 – Thursday 16 and Friday 17 March
  • Week 7 – Monday 20, Tuesday 21 and Wednesday 22 March.

In addition to the 18 days of strike action, UCU are asking their members to take a longer period of action short of a strike (known as ASOS) until 20 April.

ASOS typically means staff carry out their core duties but do not take on any additional responsibilities.

It is a legal right for workers in the UK and we respect people's right to strike to improve pay and pensions. We’re committed to maintaining respect, safety and good relations between students and staff throughout any period of industrial action.

This latest strike action in relation to USS is part of a national, long-running and complex dispute, and agreement about both USS and pay can only be reached at a national level.

We remain committed to becoming an employer of choice and to improving our employment practices for all staff, and we are keen to continue to work on this with our three recognised trade unions, Unite, Unison and UCU. Last October we reached agreement with UCU, following 16 weeks of negotiations, on a number of key issues relating to pay and working conditions.

We are also aware that in these financially challenging times, pay is at the forefront of everyone's minds. Last term, in response to the cost of living crisis, the University provided a £6.6m support package for staff and students.

Why is the industrial action happening?

This latest strike action in relation to USS is part of a national, long-running, and complex dispute, and, as with previous action agreement about both USS and pay, can only be reached at a national level. 

The 2023-24 New JNCHES - Joint Negotiating Committee for HE Staff - pay round involves Universities and Colleges Employers Association (UCEA) and participating HE institutions and trade unions. At Sussex, like other universities, we are bound by a collective bargaining agreement. 

What options are available?

We very much hope that national agreements can be reached that are acceptable to our staff, but we also recognise that financial circumstances for all universities are very challenging.

What next?

We recognise that industrial action impacts our students’ educational experience at Sussex, and we are committed to seeking to minimise the disruption and the impact on their learning outcomes. We will do everything we can to ensure our students can continue to learn and receive support.

We are providing a wide range of information to students about what they can expect during the industrial action, and we are making them aware of the information available on the Student Hub. It would be very helpful if you are asked for information from a student to direct them to the Student Hub, as we aim to contain advice in this one place as much as possible.

Alongside our commitment to our students, the welfare of our staff is also very important and we must provide the space for different views and decisions, while maintaining a culture of dignity and respect.

You can also get strike terminology explained – because this is a national dispute, you’ll probably hear about it on campus and in the news.