Trade union brands Sheffield College ‘shameful’ for allegedly threatening to sack striking workers

Receptionists and switchboard operators at The Sheffield College have been threatened with the sack unless they sign up to a controversial new contract, a trade union has claimed ahead of a planned walkout.

Friday, 22nd November 2019, 3:24 pm
Updated Friday, 22nd November 2019, 5:00 pm
The Sheffield College City Campus.

College management has reportedly threatened to dismiss the staff without redundancy if they do not accept new terms and conditions which involves them working on a rota across the four college campuses in the city.

Trade union Unison said that, under the new contracts, low-paid staff will not receive additional pay or travel expenses, costing them hundreds of pounds in extra travel and childcare costs.

They say this could result in the mainly female workforce being unable to make ends meet.

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Union members will now take part in strike action on Monday, November 25, after talks with the college broke down this week.

Unless the dispute is resolved, staff will take to the picket lines again on December 2 and 3, and from December 9 to 11.

Jordan Stapleton, Unison area organiser, said: “It is incredibly disappointing that the college has refused to compromise and is instead attempting to bully mainly low-paid women by threatening them with the sack.

“For our members, taking strike action is a last resort, but college management even refused to engage in talks with us through ACAS.

“There is no benefit to the college by forcing through these changes because the staff have already agreed to cover their colleagues at other workplaces if they are ill or on holiday. All this will do is punish low-paid staff who are going to lose hundreds of pounds through increased travel costs – which will in effect push their wages below the living wage.”

The Sheffield College has four main campuses: City campus, on Granville Road; Hillsborough, on Livesey Street; Peaks, on Waterthorpe Greenway and Olive Grove, on Olive Grove Road with smaller sites at Fir Vale and Eyre Street.

Mr Stapleton added: “It is utterly shameful that college management claims to be an ‘employer of choice’ in South Yorkshire, when its bullying suggests it’s one of Sheffield’s worst.”

Paul Simpson, Executive Director of Human Resources and Organisation Development, The Sheffield College, said: “Any strike action is regrettable, and we have made every effort to consult with the six staff affected and Unison during the last five months, and have amended our proposals following their feedback.”

He added: “This dispute affects six administration roles covering reception, student services and switchboard. We are proposing a restructure to provide a better service to our students. All of those staff would be offered permanent jobs in the proposed new structure and with the same salary - there would be no pay reduction.”