December Branch News – Equality and diversity, pensions and a top 100 place to work?

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December Branch News

A busy year, in which branch membership grew and we defended the right to automatic pay increments, ended with a focus on equality and diversity issues, Sheffield taking an interest in the national discussion on pensions, and a place in the top 100 places to work.

Our final general meeting of the year was held at the end of November. Discussion was lively, and concerns voiced about the university’s approach to core functions: occupational health is about to join staff counseling in being outsourced, while Juice has been spun-off as a private company and our Director of HR seemed keen on commercialising further functions in his recent interview ( Are priorities straight here, we wonder, and in whose interests are these decisions being made? We also welcomed a talk by the new president of Sheffield Students’ Union, Christy McMorrow, who gave an update on their campaigns.

Our equality and diversity officer attended the national UCU Equality and Diversity Conference in November. Motions were passed to do more to ensure support for members suffering domestic violence, and also to prioritise diverse representation in every level of the union, among other things. We will be looking more closely at what we can do locally on these matters early next year.

In response to our letter to the Vice Chancellor (, the university is taking an interest in the national discussions on pensions currently taking place between UCU and Universities UK (the employers’ umbrella body). UCU maintains that the current method of valuing the USS pensions scheme is thoroughly misleading and in urgent need of a review; failure to do so is likely to lead to a further attack on pension benefits in 2017.

Finally, you probably saw that the University of Sheffield made the top 100 places to work in the Sunday Times’ list ( This may be a surprise to some – workload, stress, casual contracts and harassment issues are very much on our radar – but with the university keen to pat itself on its back, we wonder: is this success really to be claimed by the HR department, or is it perhaps testament to the strength of the campus unions (

Happy new year from the Sheffield UCU committee!

HE Green Paper Convention – are you interested?

The branch committee has decided to fund up to 5 Sheffield UCU members to attend a discussion event on the government’s green paper for higher education in London in February (details below). If you are interested in attending, please reply to this email. We would very much like to have a strong Sheffield presence.

HE Green Paper Convention: The Threat to the Public University
Saturday 27 February, 10am-5pm
Christopher Ingold Chemistry Building, UCL

Dates for the diary

  • Thursday 21 January: Sheffield UCU meeting for departmental contacts, 1pm, Octagon Council Chambers.
  • Wednesday 27 January: Sheffield UCU General Meeting, 1pm, Octagon Council Chambers. Guest speaker on pay and campaigning from Leeds UCU.

Interesting reading