Lecturers at Sheffield’s two universities are stepping up their campaign of industrial action today with a two-hour walkout.
The lunchtime stoppage is the first of three walkouts, with others planned for next Tuesday and on Monday, February 10.
Staff are seeking improved pay rates, with employers nationally refusing to increase a 1 per cent offer made last year.
Sheffield Hallam University lecturers are also angry at a decision by their bosses to dock a day’s pay, a tactic being employed by at least 11 other universities nationally.
The University and College Lecturers’ Union says it will challenge Hallam’s decision in the courts – and warns the university will face escalated action as a result.
Sheffield University has decided to dock only two hours’ pay.
Sally Hunt, UCU general secretary, said Hallam’s decision would do more harm to the students than the lecturers’ strike action intended.
She said: “It can never be a reasonable response by a university to add to the regrettable disruption that students experience as a result of a legitimate trade dispute.
“On the contrary, a reasonable response would be to seek to minimise the disruption.
“If Sheffield Hallam University goes through with its threat, we will therefore immediately challenge their action through the courts.
“This process will, of course, be embarrassing for the institution, as will the publicity around their baffling willingness to increase disruption for students as a way of intimidating staff.”
A Hallam spokesman said the university would still be open and there would be efforts to rearranged cancelled teaching to a later date.
He said: “The two-hour strikes constitute partial performance, which is a breach of contract.
“This means if individuals decide to take part, the university is entitled to withhold pay from them, up to and including a full day’s pay.
“So, in line with many other institutions, the university will withhold a day’s pay from those who strike.”