PRESS RELEASE: Eight days of strikes at Sheffield Hallam and University of Sheffield on from Monday
Date: Thursday 21 November 2019 for immediate release. Members of the University and College Union at 60 UK universities will walk out from Monday (25 November) to Wednesday 4 December. Disputes are over pay and working conditions, and rising pension costs.
The University of Sheffield and Sheffield Hallam University will be hit with eight days of strike action from Monday (25 November) after no agreement could be reached between university representatives and the University and College Union (UCU) over pensions, pay and working conditions.
Striking staff will be on picket lines at all entrances to the University of Sheffield from 8am, including Firth Court, the Hicks Building and Jessop West. At Sheffield Hallam, staff will be on picket lines in the city centre including the Owen Building and entrances on Charles Street, as well as outside Collegiate Hall at the Collegiate Campus on Ecclesall Road.
On Thursday (28 November) striking staff will make their way to a 12pm rally in Barkers Pool where speakers will include UCU general secretary Jo Grady.
Earlier this week, UCU accused universities of playing games after their representatives refused to even discuss pay. The union said things were no better at talks yesterday (Wednesday) over changes to the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS), where their representatives failed to make a serious offer.
UCU said it feared that universities had learnt nothing from last year’s dispute, when university campuses were brought to a standstill by unprecedented levels of strike action.
Last month, UCU members backed strike action in ballots over both pensions, and pay and working conditions. The results mean that UCU members at 60 UK universities* are walking out on Monday.
The disputes centre on changes to USS pensions and universities’ failure to make improvements on pay, equality, casualisation and workloads. At the University of Sheffield, members were polled over striking in defence of USS pensions and about pay and conditions. Four in five members (79%) backed strikes over pay and conditions and 84% backed strikes over pensions.
UCU members at Sheffield Hallam are in a different pension scheme and were balloted for strikes over increasing workloads. Three-quarters (76%) of members polled backed strikes. Staff at Sheffield Hallam are also taking action on a local dispute about changes to how work is allocated, which has seen some members’ workloads increase by as much as 15%.
UCU members at both institutions will take eight days’ action from 25 November and begin “action short of a strike”. This involves things like working strictly to contract, not covering for absent colleagues and refusing to reschedule lectures lost to strike action.
UCU regional official Julie Kelley said: ‘Strike action is a last resort, but universities’ refusal to deal with these key issues have left us with no alternative. It is staggering and insulting that universities have not done more to work with us to try and find a way to resolve these disputes.
‘We hope students will continue to put pressure on university vice-chancellors to get their representatives back round the negotiating table for serious talks with the union.’
Shadow education secretary Angela Rayner has called on both sides to get round the table for talks and the National Union of Students says students stand shoulder to shoulder with staff in the disputes.
* Universities affected by strike action from Monday 25 November
Both disputes (43):
|1. Aston University|
|2. Bangor University|
|3. Cardiff University|
|4. University of Durham|
|5. Heriot-Watt University|
|6. Loughborough University|
|7. Newcastle University|
|8. The Open University|
|9. The University of Aberdeen|
|10. The University of Bath|
|11. The University of Dundee|
|12. The University of Leeds|
|13. The University of Manchester|
|14. The University of Sheffield|
|15. University of Nottingham|
|16. The University of Stirling|
|17. University College London|
|18. The University of Birmingham|
|19. The University of Bradford|
|20. The University of Bristol|
|21. The University of Cambridge|
|22. The University of Edinburgh|
|23. The University of Exeter|
|24. The University of Essex|
|25. The University of Glasgow|
|26. The University of Lancaster|
|27. The University of Leicester|
|28. City University|
|29. Goldsmiths College|
|30. Queen Mary University of London|
|31. Royal Holloway|
|32. The University of Reading|
|33. The University of Southampton|
|34. The University of St Andrews|
|35. Courtauld Institute of Art|
|36. The University of Strathclyde|
|37. The University of Wales|
|38. The University of Warwick|
|39. The University of York|
|40. The University of Liverpool|
|41. The University of Sussex|
|42. The University of Ulster|
|43. Queen’s University Belfast
|Pay and conditions dispute only (14):
1. Bishop Grosseteste University
|2. Bournemouth University|
|3. Edge Hill University|
|4. Glasgow Caledonian University|
|5. Glasgow School of Art|
|6. Liverpool Hope University|
|7. Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts|
|8. Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh|
|9. St Mary’s University College, Belfast|
|10. Roehampton University|
|11. The University of Oxford|
|12. Sheffield Hallam University|
|13. The University of Brighton|
|14. The University of Kent|
USS pensions dispute only (3):
1. Scottish Association of Marine Science
2. The University of East Anglia
3. Institute for Development Studies
University of Sheffield UCU – Jess Meacham m: 07912 301 615; e: firstname.lastname@example.org
National UCU – Dan Ashley t: 020 7756 2600; m: 07789 518 992; e: email@example.com