Sheffield University cleaners 'prepared to take action' over pay

Trade union Unite is calling for a pay rise for cleaners at Sheffield University and warning they are prepared to ‘take action’.

By David Kessen
Wednesday, 8th September 2021, 6:28 am

The union wants a wage of £10 an hour and is handing over a pledge to university bosses today, which they say is a commitment to improving pay and conditions.

Managers say cleaners already earn at least £9.50 an hour, a rate agreed with unions.

Unite’s campaign is backed by city MPs Paul Blomfield, Olivia Blake and Louise Haigh.

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Sheffield Views..Pictured is Sheffield University Firth Court...Pic Steve Ellis

Union officials say the pledge to be handed over today is a clear commitment that cleaners are prepared to ‘take action for better pay and conditions’.

Most cleaners work a 20 hour week, meaning it would take them almost 30 years to earn vice chancellor Koen Lambert’s annual £285,000 salary. They currently earn £9.52 an hour and most take home just £9,900 a year. Most are women.

Unite regional officer, Harriet Eisner, said: “Hundreds of cleaners are calling on Sheffield University to recognise their hard work with a decent and fair wage of £10 an hour.

“The dedicated cleaners have worked at the university throughout the pandemic on poverty pay, while the Vice Chancellor has been working from the comfort of his home. They work unsociable hours and they are trapped on the university’s lowest pay band with no opportunity to progress.”

A University of Sheffield spokesman said: “Our staff have made extraordinary efforts in the past year to help us through what has been a very challenging time for the university.

“The university employs 357 cleaning staff and supervisors and we are proud to have been able to continue to provide them ongoing employment during the pandemic, either in vital roles helping to maintain our campus as a Covid-secure setting, or furloughed on full pay. We are incredibly grateful to them for the important contributions they have made to our response to the pandemic.

“Our cleaning staff are paid a minimum of £9.50 per hour, in line with the rate recommended by the Living Wage Foundation. The pay rates at the university are determined through a process of national pay bargaining with a number of trade unions, including Unite. We have recently awarded our cleaning staff and others on similar pay grades a 3.6 per cent pay increase.”

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