(14th Sep 2023) The email from the Director of HR to all staff (13th September) indicated that within our negotiation meeting we “were not able to reach an agreement”. We would like to clarify that our delegation approached the meeting with management openly and optimistically. Whilst the position from the branch is clear, we were willing to negotiate seriously to find an offer that the branch may deem sufficient to call off strike action during one of the busiest times of the year. Management offered nothing.
In previous sector wide disputes, management have held the public position that they do not wish to negotiate locally as it would not have the power to directly resolve the entire dispute. That is simply not true in this case. There is still time for management to engage and find a resolution that works for both parties. We have again today written to the VC to reiterate that. We understand that representatives of the Students’ Union have also met with management and asked them to engage with the branch to avoid the upcoming strike action and major disruption it will cause to students by returning MAB deductions.
Requesting the return of MAB deductions is not an unreasonable position, with the University of Sussex recently agreeing to return these in return for marking being completed by a reasonable date. Similar local agreements have been made at several other universities, including King’s College London and LSE. Members might also remember the previous year’s MAB in which our own management agreed not to make deductions in response to marks being returned. We notified management on the 13th of July of our intention to escalate, giving them plenty of time to reconsider their position on deductions and avoid disruption.
In addition to writing to the VC and Director of Human Resources to ask them to return to negotiations, Members in the Faculty of Social Sciences have drafted an open letter which University of Sheffield staff and students can sign to show their support. We understand that this letter will be shared with management ahead of the upcoming action to ask them to please rethink their position.
Since management have the power to negotiate an end to this local dispute at any point, it is crucial that members show up in force next week. We note that deductions for August are not currently scheduled to be taken until this month’s payroll is run, so there is still time for management to cancel these deductions. We also encourage members to keep an eye out for emails from us with any updates.