Sheffield University and Sheffield Hallam University facing February and March UCU strikes

Both of Sheffield’s universities are set to be hit by strike action for several days next month.

The UCU – University and College Union – has announced up to 10 days of campus walkouts over pensions, pay and working conditions, with the final planned day coinciding with a National Union of Students ‘student strike’.

Lecturers and other staff from both University of Sheffield and Sheffield Hallam University will be involved.

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University strike: Picket lines at Sheffield University and Hallam University ov...
UCU pickets during the Sheffield University strike in December, outside Firth Court

The union claims the strike is a ‘fight for the future of higher education’ with staff at ‘breaking point’ after a decade of cuts to pensions, falling pay and worsening working conditions.

It claims staff face a 35 per cent cut to their guaranteed retirement income, as well as a 20 per cent real term pay cut over the past 12 years, unmanageable workloads, pay inequality and insecure contracts.

A five day strike is planned over pensions from Monday February 14 until Friday February 18; two strike days over pensions, pay and conditions are scheduled on February 21 and 22; and three strike days are planned from February 28 until March 2 over pay and conditions.

The final day of strike action in week three has been called to coincide with a ‘student strike’ on Wednesday March 2, organised by the NUS. The NUS is calling for higher and further education to be free at the point of use for students and for staff to get better working conditions, pay and pensions.

Striking UCU members in December outside the Sheffield University management School. The union has announced moe strike days for February and March

The UCU wants a £2,500 pay rise for all staff, as well as action to tackle unmanageable workloads, pay inequality and the use of insecure contracts.

UCU general secretary Jo Grady said: “Staff need a proper pay rise, action to tackle insecure contracts, unsafe workloads and pay inequality, and for devastating pension cuts to be revoked. Any disruption that occurs will be the clearest indication yet that university bosses don’t value their staff.”

A University of Sheffield spokesperson said: “We have been notified that UCU will be asking its members at Sheffield and 67 other universities across the country to take part in further strike action over national pensions and pay and working conditions, for up to 10 days.

“Our priority is to minimise disruption for those students who are affected to ensure that learning and teaching continues to be delivered. Student support services will continue to be available and we will be communicating regularly with our students and staff to let them know about any changes that may occur as a result of the strike action.

“We will continue to work with our local trade unions and national representatives and encourage both parties to work together at a national level to explore ways to resolve these disputes.”

Sheffield Hallam is only affected by the strike action on week two and week three – a total of five days.

A spokesperson said: “As a university, we will make every effort to keep students and staff informed of the latest information regarding the national UCU dispute.

“Our overriding priority during any possible industrial action, will be to minimise disruption for students and the wider university community.”