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University and College Union

The Open University branch of the University and College Union

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What is ASOS?

We are asking members to observe action short of a strike (ASOS) until the end of September 2023. 

ASOS is meant to be a way to ensure strike action is effective. It also provides opportunities to highlight and prevent overwork/overload particularly after the strike action. If you have a question or would like individual help, please contact the office: ucu@open.ac.uk

UCU explains Action Short of a Strike as follows:

At the OU most contracts are very general in relation to duties expected but this element gives you the opportunity to raise questions if you are asked to undertake something unusual or not within what you consider your normal workload.

In universities a lot of work is done through good will and helping out so defining 'voluntary' can be difficult. This might include taking on an unpaid mentoring or validation role that is not part of your normal duties, or doing something 'as an extra' at the evening and weekends. The purpose of turning down such activities is to highlight the extra load placed on many staff because of inadequate workload planning, which often doesn't make allowances for these 'extras'.

  • work to contract (meaning that you only fulfil the duties explicitly expressed in your contract)

  • do not undertake voluntary activities

  • do not cover for absent colleagues

  • refuse to reschedule classes missed due to industrial action

  • remove materials for classes that would have taken place on strike days from online learning platforms. This also means don't send out materials afterward relating to classes/tutorials that have been cancelled.

At the OU most ALs probably don't upload material for students on a meeting-by-meeting basis, which happens in some other institutions. However if you have cancelled a class or tutorial because of the strike action we ask you not to send materials to the students afterward relating to the class that has been cancelled.

More information about ASOS can be found on the UCU Rising FAQs page. UCU started a Reclaim your time campaign in 2021 which has the purpose of exposing how much of our free time is sacrificed to keep the HE system afloat.