Press releases

SUCU Statement: VSS Outcomes

We know the outcome of the VSS (which possibly won’t be the end of job losses) has resulted in the loss of 320 university staff. Whilst the
majority of these are support staff (‘only’ 67 were academic staff) it’s foolish to think that this will not have an effect on student learning
and teaching.

It is still too early to know exactly what will happen in departments as teaching has not yet begun, and of course it will vary from department to department. Campus unions are currently working with the University and attempting to analyse the data relating to the VSS outcome in order to try and identify any particularly hard-hit areas/departments

Students are aware of the direct support they receive from non-academic staff in many areas, but they may not be aware of the fact that all academic staff rely heavily on support staff in departments and central services. If – or should I say when – academics are asked to perform more non-teaching duties this can only result in less of their time being available for students.

UCU are very concerned about how the university plans to cover the resulting gaps in teaching without compromising the quality. We can see the potential dangers and are already receiving feedback from members on ways some departments appear to be trying to cope. Some of this feedback is worrying.

UCU intend to keep a close eye on developments and fight to ensure the University does not compromise either staff or students as a result of their job cutting exercises. We are working closely with all campus unions including USUS, to try and reverse the short-sighted trend of cost-cutting by huge staff losses. The resulting damage caused by this strategy should not be acceptable.

Cleaning Press Release from UCU

Clean your own desk and get rid of your bin says swine flu university after cleaning cut backs

Date: Wednesday 23 September 2009 for immediate release

Staff at the University of Sheffield have been told to clean their own areas and consider pooling bins after cutbacks on cleaning staff. The University and College Union (UCU) has criticised the university and accused it of putting staff and students’ health at risk by introducing the measures when the institution is under swine flu alert.

The university has prioritised areas ‘critical for the student experience and income generation’ to be cleaned, leading to accusations from staff that profit and image is more important than health and safety. Astonished members of staff have been told that vacuuming will now only take place every two to three weeks, waste bins will only be emptied every few days and that they will have to wait for over a fortnight for fixtures to be wiped.

UCU general secretary, Sally Hunt, said: “The health and safety of staff is paramount and I am utterly amazed that the university is prepared to cut back on cleaning when it is under swine flu alert. The decision speaks volumes about its priorities – clearly profit and image matter more than people’s safety. Staff have the right to be able to work in clean offices and shouldn’t have to wait for weeks for floors to be vacuumed and fixtures to be wiped.”

The full details of the changes to cleaning services:

Changes to Cleaning Services

The impact of the University-wide recruitment restrictions on Cleaning Services has meant we have had to review the current cleaning operations, prioritising areas and services for cleaning.

The cleaning of teaching and research areas are critical for the student experience and income generation and cleaning staff are being relocated to these areas where vacancies exist. The current frequency of cleaning in these areas will continue.

Due to the relocation of staff to these priority areas, we have had to introduce some changes in lower priority areas. The main changes affect colleagues located in Administrative & Faculty offices and include:

  • Waste bins in offices to be emptied every few days or over half full
  • Vacuuming to be carried out every two/three weeks
  • Damp wipe fixtures every two/three weeks

We know you value our cleaning staff and the services they provide, and would like to reassure you that we remain committed to providing excellent customer service. We will continue to monitor the impact of the changes and review service levels as appropriate.

For more information on the changes and information on our cleaning services please read our Cleaning Services Frequencies document How you can help. We’re still committed to providing you with excellent cleaning services, but there are some simple things you can do in your area to help us:

  • Recycle: The University has a dedicated Waste and Recycling team who recycle card and paper
  • Give up your bin: Become a ‘single bin’ office. It helps cut down on waste and it gives you an excuse to get up and stretch your legs
  • Food waste: If you have any food waste, put it in the bin in your staff or kitchen area as this means we won’t need to empty the one in your office as often
  • Take responsibility for your area: We’re not suggesting you get the vacuum out, but by keeping things tidyand clean around your desk you’ll help us focus on the other areas of your office


Dan Ashley t: 020 7756 2600; m: 07789 518 992; e:
Alex Rossiter t: 020 7756 2598; m: 07977 562 686; e: