University of Sheffield and Hallam strike: Council Leader accused of crossing picket line by trade union

A trade union has criticised the Leader of Sheffield Council after he allegedly crossed a picket line and almost became involved in a fight.

Wednesday, 1st December 2021, 5:31 pm
Updated Wednesday, 1st December 2021, 5:57 pm

Labour and Green councillors were due to attend a meeting of full council in the Octagon building but refused to cross the picket to show solidarity with striking University lecturers.

Council Leader Terry Fox and some Labour councillors did enter the building to hold a meeting – they then came back out saying they would not cross the picket for the full council meeting.

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University of Sheffield and Hallam strike action: Council Leader in picket line ...

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Labour councillors, along with Green councillors, refused to cross a picket line outside the Octagon building in solidarity with striking University lecturers.

But there was an angry exchange when someone on the picket called Coun Fox a “scab”. And the University of Sheffield branch of the University and College Union later issued a statement criticising Labour.

It said: “The majority of Labour councillors entered a University of Sheffield building for a pre-meeting, and in doing so, walked past striking members of Sheffield UCU.

“Today is our first day of strike action in our dispute over rampant precarity, unhealthy workloads, equal pay, and substantial cuts to our pay and pensions.

“These are issues that we trust would be of particular importance to the Labour party. We do not condone the use of university buildings during strike action, and when we learned of this meeting, had worked with the Sheffield Students Union to find an alternative location in the Students Union next door, which is treated as neutral ground during industrial action.

“We are extremely disappointed that any member of the Labour party would choose to cross past striking union members, despite being given an opportunity to support our action by simply relocating their pre-meeting to a nearby building.

“We understand that at this pre-meeting, the Labour members took a vote and were determined to not attend the later, full council meeting.

“This decision does not negate their previous choice to do so, but we are pleased they made the correct choice in the end.

“We appreciate the solidarity of those Labour, Green, and Lib Dem council members who chose to not enter the building.”

It’s understood Labour did not want to use the Student Union building as it was too small to socially distance.