Breakdown of ACAS talks: timeline

We would like to clarify the sequence of events leading up to the breakdown of the ACAS talks to resolve the dispute with UCU.

The key points are as follows.

  • At the ACAS talks on Tuesday morning, 9 March, a joint statement was agreed which contained the following: 'These intensive meetings are not yet concluded. Both sides remain committed to securing a negotiated settlement and believe that that is possible.' The University side understood that the UCU negotiators would take the joint statement to a UCU general meeting the next day (Wednesday 10 March), but there was no suggestion that the negotiators would be proposing industrial action.
  • Barely two hours after the joint statement had been agreed, UCU members were informed that the UCU committee had agreed to recommend to Wednesday's general meeting a one-day strike next Thursday, 18 March.
  • We had hoped that the general meeting would have rejected the call for strike action. However, we had to be prudent and prepare a response to be used if - and only if - UCU did vote for strike action. That response was prepared on the morning of Wednesday morning for despatch, if necessary, on Wednesday afternoon.
  • In the event, the UCU general meeting did vote for strike action on Thursday 18 March. Although this has to be confirmed, it also, we understand, voted for strike action on two further days (in April), action short of a strike and, we believe, 'grey listing' of the University. The meeting finished at about 1400 hrs.
  • The Vice-Chancellor made a statement to Senate (at approximately 1415 hrs) about the position - and despatched a letter to staff (at 1431 hrs) - only after we had received confirmation that the UCU general meeting had voted for strike action.
  • The University received formal notification from UCU at 1850 hrs on Wednesday 10 March that UCU would be asking its members to take strike action on 18 March. (Note that, for a strike to take place lawfully on 18 March, UCU had to send formal notification to the University by 2400 hrs on Wednesday. Once the general meeting had voted for a strike on 18 March, formal 'announcement' of strike action was therefore always going to be made on 10 March - unless, that is, UCU nationally over-ruled the Leeds general meeting).
  • The UCU's current mandate for industrial action runs until 29 March. This means in practice that UCU had until 21 March to give the University notice of an intent to start industrial action.

Posted in: