Sheffield universities hit by strike

Lecturers were joined by students on the Picket Line outside Sheffield University
Lecturers were joined by students on the Picket Line outside Sheffield University
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Students joined their lecturers on the picket lines as staff at both Sheffield universities staged a one day strike over pay.

Members of lecturers’ union UCU took joint action with Unison and Unite for the first time in a national protest against pay rises below the rate of inflation.

Picket lines were set up at key sites at both Sheffield Hallam and Sheffield universities, which remained opened despite some disruption to normal teaching and other services.

UCU national president Simon Renton came to Sheffield to talk to members and later addressed a rally in the city centre.

He said: “The mood of lecturers here is optimistic and cheerful, though underpinned by an underlying feeling of disappointment and some anger. The action has been remarkably solid and I have rarely seen such a density of pickets covering all the main university entrances.

“We really hope that this strike will bring employers back to the table to discuss pay and other issues such as pay equality and the increasing casualisation of staff. Members here have turned out in numbers we could not have expected.”

Unions have been offered a one per cent increase, but they say they have suffered a 13 per cent decline in pay in real terms over the last four years.

Sheffield University UCU branch secretary Pablo Stern said: “With the real terms pay cuts which we have had, we are effectively working six weeks a year for nothing.

“It is shocking that while student fees have been rocketing the proportion of university funds going on staff pay and pensions has steadily declined. It’s time to call a halt.”

A Hallam spokesman said: “The strike action is part of a national pay dispute and cannot be resolved locally. The university is committed to maintaining services to students wherever possible.”

Sheffield University’s Andy Dodman said: “It is disappointing that the decision to take strike action has been taken as industrial disputes in higher education are always challenging.”