Three days of strikes at University of Sheffield and Sheffield Hallam University over pension cuts

Staff at both the universities in Sheffield will strike for three days starting today over a pension dispute.

Wednesday, 1st December 2021, 7:28 am

A union for university academic staff says members across the UK have been “misled” over the size of pension cuts.

The University and College Union (UCU) is calling for a £2,500 pay rise for all staff, claiming wages of staff have fallen 20 per cent in real terms since 2009.

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Academic staff at both of Sheffield's universities are protesting over a reported 30 per drop in wages in real terms over 12 years and in protest of unsecured contracts.

They also say staff are facing “unmanageable workloads, pay inequality and insecure contracts”.

Now, staff at both the University of Sheffield and Sheffield Hallam University are preparing for a three-day walk out starting today (December 1) until Friday.

Picket lines will be visible outside the main entrances of both campuses, and a protest will be held at noon outside the University of Sheffield’s student union building.

A University of Sheffield spokesperson said the action is “unlikely to affect the majority of students”.

UCU general secretary Jo Grady said: “The truth is that staff are asking for the bare minimum in a sector awash with money.

“We are grateful to all the students who are supporting staff taking industrial action because they understand that staff working conditions are student learning conditions. Vice-chancellors now need to concentrate on asking themselves why strikes have become an annual occurrence.”

The UCU says the strike action will escalate in the new year if employers do not come to the table over their demands.

Of 1,655 UCU members affected at the University of Sheffield, 732 voted to strike over pay and pensions – 73 per cent of the 1,007 who voted.

At Hallam, of 819 UCU members affected, 270 voted to strike over pay and conditions – 61 per cent of the 441 who voted.

They will reportedly be joined by staff from 58 UK universities who have also voted to strike for the next three days.

The UCU says staff pay has fallen by 20 per cent over 12 years due to below inflation pay offers, and claims 90,000 academic staff are on insecure contracts.

It is also protesting a reported 15 per cent gender pay gap at UK universities, coupled with a 9 per cent disability pay gap and a 17 per cent race pay gap.

It also claims work-related stress is leading to high levels of symptoms for depression.