February Branch News – pay, pensions and privatisation

Reminder: Sheffield UCU general meeting, Wednesday 9 March, 1-2pm, Octagon Council Chamber. Update on the pay campaign and more. All welcome!

February Branch News

As annual pay negotiations near, discussions continue over pensions and we highlight concerns over the creeping commercialisation of core university functions.

This year’s pay negotiations begin in March. UCU has tabled its claim, including a ‘catch-up’ award of 5% to redress recent pay erosion and a demand for action to reduce the gender pay gap and use of casual contracts. Universities know that the facts are on our side, and must realise it’s important that they offer a genuine pay rise. Failure to do so is likely to trigger a dispute and a ballot.

Last week was UCU’s National Recruitment Week, and we took stalls to the Mappin Building and Jessop West. It was really useful to talk to potential and current members. Our straw poll identified workload and stress as the biggest concern for those we spoke to. Please do spread word of the importance of unions with colleagues who are yet to join.

As part of ongoing national discussions on the USS pension scheme, academic experts were asked to submit opinions on how pension funds should be valued and managed. Sheffield’s Craig Berry was one of those involved, and you can read his thoughts here. There is a real danger that, without a change of mindset, USS could be attacked further at next year’s valuation. We are continuing to keep this on the agenda in Sheffield.

Finally, we are increasingly concerned over the creeping outsourcing and commercialisation of core university activities. Occupational Health is the latest HR function to be outsourced, following on from staff counselling, and we will be putting questions to the university to establish what processes are followed in such decisions and in whose interests they are being made.

Rate for the Job

If you haven’t yet had a try, the Rate for the Job page developed by UCU allows you to find out what salary you would be on if pay had kept up with inflation over the past 6 years. It also allows you to compare your salary with what you might be getting at other institutions, and for you to keep an eye on some eye-watering VC salaries (including that of our own, coming in at over £380k).

Dates for the Diary

  • Thu 3 March, 1-2pm, Departmental Contacts Meeting, Mappin Boardroom, Mappin Building (Note venue!)
  • Wed 9 March, 1-2pm, General Meeting, Octagon Council Chamber
  • Tue 19 April, 1-2pm, Departmental Contacts Meeting, Octagon Council Chamber
  • Tue 26 April, 1-2pm, General Meeting, Octagon Council Chamber
  • Wed 8 June, 1-2pm, Annual General Meeting, Octagon Council Chamber

Interesting Reading