Action Short of a Strike (ASOS)

Members of Goldsmiths UCU taking part in strike action over pensions, pay and equalities are also engaged in action short of a strike (ASOS) that started on 25 November. Action short of a strike is collective action carried out by academic, professional services and technical staff. The purpose of action short of a strike is to legally slow down productivity. We all give additional hours to our roles from which our employers benefit and ASOS sends a clear message to our employers that we know how much the university depends upon our goodwill, that we are still in dispute and that it is solidly supported.

It will be especially important when we return to work on 5 December that we:

  • work to contract
  • resist pressure to reschedule classes
  • resist pressure to take on additional responsibilities following the strike
  • work a 35 hour week (or fractional equivalent thereof) even if this means that we may miss previously established deadlines.

ASOS for Academic Staff

The guidance below is an indication of the kinds of activities that we should refrain from in

the context of action short of a strike and working to contract. This may change given your specific role and contractual obligations but are likely to include the following:

  • taking part in open days and applicant days (during the week and especially on weekends)
  • responding to work-related emails outside normal working hours
  • attending university organised ad hoc meetings and events
  • engaging in voluntary activities (such as committee membership, filling in surveys, attending evening events, etc
  • rescheduling classes that may have been affected by industrial action.
  • covering for absent colleagues (unless this is explicitly in your contract)
  • attending graduation ceremonies
  • organising or participating in events and meetings that are additional to contractual responsibilities
  • invigilating

ASOS for Professional and Technical Staff

Working to contract means:

  • working exactly the minimum required by your contract
  • performing your duties within your working hours
  • taking your full lunch break and any other breaks, every day
  • not responding to emails outside of working hours (usually 9am-5pm depending on your contract)
  • taking the time you need within your hours to complete your work
  • not covering for sick or absent colleagues
  • not organising or participating in anything additional to contract that the university asks of you

Not sure if a duty is voluntary or contractual?

If you’re not sure whether an activity is voluntary, please do ask your line manager. If you are requested to take part in an activity that you consider to be voluntary, please ask your line manager to put this in writing.


We are working to contract in a legal dispute and will take very seriously any attempts to dock salary for working to contract or any attempts to compel our members to take on work outside of ASOS. Please note that while Goldsmiths SMT are currently “reserving the right” to deduct for taking part in ASOS, other institutions – including Southampton, Cambridge, Ulster, St Andrews, Edinburgh and Kent – have declared that they will not be deducting pay for taking part in ASOS. We hope that our management will clarify their intentions with regard to ASOS very soon.

Out of office message or email signatures

You may want to have an out of office message or simply to append a message to your signature along the following lines:

Please note that I am currently taking action short of a strike as part of the University and College Union’s (UCU) industrial action to defend our right to a fair pension, fair pay, secure contracts and equality at work. Response times may be slower for the duration of the dispute, especially outside of normal working hours. Please support university staff by writing to the warden of Goldsmiths, Frances Corner,, asking her to address staff concerns and to clarify the steps she is taking to resolve the dispute.


If you have any questions about actions short of a strike please contact

UCU FAQs on working to contract are here

UCU guidance on ASOS for professional services and academic-related staff is here.

1 thought on “ACTION SHORT OF A STRIKE (ASOS) Advice to GUCU members

  1. Pingback: Action Short of a Strike (ASOS) information for UCU branches in dispute | Branch Solidarity Network

Comments are closed.