Industrial action latest updates for students

Latest updates for students about the industrial action.

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16 May 2022

The Vice-Chancellor wrote to all staff on 16 May, outlining the University's commitments to resolve the issues at the centre of industrial action:

Dear colleague, 

As you know, we face further industrial action here at Sheffield and at other universities across the country. As part of new mandates obtained in its disputes on pay, working conditions and pensions, the Sheffield branch of UCU has announced that it will be asking its members to take action short of a strike (ASOS) from 23 May. This action will include a marking and assessment boycott. 

I wish we weren’t in this position and understand the impact industrial action has had, and continues to have, on our university community. I assure you that we continue to work to bring an end to the disputes. We have sought to influence and shape the national discussion on pay and pensions, and we are taking local steps to address issues around workload, casualisation and equality.   

However, having heard the issues and concerns you raised in my meetings with departments over the past few months, I acknowledge that we need to do more. My UEB colleagues and I have considered other steps we can take to resolve the issues at the centre of the ongoing action and we set out our commitment to you below.

On USS, we will:

  • Call for future valuations to be based on moderately prudent assumptions.
  • Call for better pension benefits for members if future valuations show an improved funding position for the scheme.
  • Continue to provide enhanced covenant support for any proposals formally presented and agreed through negotiations at the USS Joint Negotiating Committee (JNC). 
  • Support the work that is being undertaken by UUK, UCU, and USS to explore more affordable membership options, to enable more eligible staff to join USS. 
  • Support the joint work on governance reform in USS and on possible future benefit structures for the scheme (including conditional indexation). 
  • Reconvene our USS Valuation Working Group, in partnership with our trade union colleagues, to help navigate the complex issues that might arise from the next USS valuation.

On the ‘four fights’ dispute, we will:

  • Continue to negotiate changes to our local grade boundaries with our trade union colleagues. Although we are bound to use the nationally agreed pay spine, local changes to grade boundaries will allow some staff to move further up the spine. We hope to conclude this work by August 2022.
  • Build on the good practice and constructive local negotiations with the trade unions that have led to: 
    • the introduction of the Graduate Teaching Assistant employment contract;
    • a commitment that no regular scheduled teaching will be undertaken by anyone on a casual contract; and
    • the introduction of a £10 per hour minimum pay rate
  • Seek urgent improvements in workloads, according to the principles agreed in our joint Academic Workload Planning Group. 
  • Improve career pathways for Professional Services colleagues.
  • Implement our Gender Pay Gap Action Plan, seeking to reduce the gender pay gap by a further five percentage points by 2025, and prioritise work to reduce ethnicity and disability pay gaps.
  • Continue our work under the One University pillar, which has diversity and inclusion, wellbeing, and fostering a supportive and collaborative culture at its heart.

This work is very important to me, and I am determined to do everything I can to make our University the best possible place to work for all our colleagues. We will keep you informed about progress.

With best wishes,

Koen


9 May 2022

One of our recognised unions on campus, UCU, has announced that they are asking members at Sheffield to take Action Short of a Strike (ASOS) from 23 May 2022.

We have not received any formal notification of further strike days. We are working through the details of this latest notice and will provide further guidance for staff in the coming week.

We recognise that this action will be worrying to you - please be assured that the University will work hard to mitigate the impact of this action.

We will be updating the Student Information webpages regularly, and sharing updates via email.

Previous updates 

27 April 2022

The University and College Union (UCU) has announced that they will ask members to take Action Short of a Strike (ASOS) further to their ballots on pensions, pay and working conditions. Their mandates allow them to take ASOS, including a marking and assessment boycott, and 10 additional days of strikes.

A marking and assessment boycott means that some UCU members will not mark or assess students' work. We will provide more information when it's available, but be assured that we will work to mitigate the impact of this action on students.

Dates of this action will be confirmed in mid-May.

12 April 2022

The University and College Union (UCU) re-balloted institutions across the country on two issues; pay and working conditions, and pensions. The Sheffield branch has succeeded in getting a mandate for strike action and action short of a strike on both of these issues.

This mandate will last until 8 October 2022.

We will find out what action they plan to take later this month and will keep you updated.

24 March 2022

Industrial action update: 24 March 2022

Dear all,

The University and College Union (UCU) has announced further dates for industrial action to take place at universities across the country. The planned action takes place from Monday 28 March - Friday 1 April 2022.

The action relates to the ongoing disputes in higher education on a number of national issues, including pay, pensions, and working conditions.

As before, for many of you, the strike action will not significantly affect your education - as not all University staff are members of UCU, and not all members will choose to strike. The University will remain open throughout the strike dates, and most teaching will go ahead as usual.

I’m keenly aware that this follows previous strike action at our University, and that some students will be more affected than others. I understand that this may cause stress on top of the pressures of your studies - and I’d like to take this opportunity to reassure you that the University is making every effort to reduce the disruption to your learning, and support your wellbeing.

This week, the Vice-Chancellor met with your Students’ Union Officers, your elected representatives, to discuss the industrial action and how we can best support you. The Vice-Chancellor will continue to meet regularly with your Students’ Union Officers in the coming weeks.

Below I have included some useful information, which you may find helpful ahead of the planned strike dates - should you be affected.

If a class is cancelled

Strike action means that some classes may not take place during the above dates. Wherever possible, your department will email you in advance if a class is affected - just like any staff absence. While we will make every effort to inform you, we will not know in advance which classes are affected, so this may not always be possible.

If your teaching is cancelled as a result of strike action, you will not be recorded as an unauthorised absence. This means, if you’re an international student with a Tier 4 visa or Student visa, it will not be affected.

What is action short of a strike?

The strike action will be followed by action short of a strike, potentially until early May. This means some University staff may work to their contracted hours and not undertake voluntary activities, amongst other action. Beyond the strike dates announced above, no other teaching should be affected.

What action the University is taking

We are continuing to share our views with our national representatives to urge all parties to reach a negotiated solution. However, as these are national issues, we cannot resolve the dispute through actions undertaken here at Sheffield alone. If you’d like to read about the steps we’re taking to address staff concerns, we have published updates on our website: https://www.sheffield.ac.uk/industrial-action/national-issues

Questions about Industrial action

If you have a question about industrial action, check our website - which includes guidance to access wellbeing support. From Monday, our dedicated support team will also be available to answer a specific question: www.sheffield.ac.uk/industrial-action

As always, we will continue to update you with the latest information and do everything possible to ensure you are supported.

With best wishes, 

Mary Vincent

Vice-President for Education

21 March 2022

Industrial action update

The University and College Union (UCU), a trade union representing University staff, has announced further dates for industrial action to take place at universities across the country. 

Five days of strike action at Sheffield run from Monday 28 March to Friday 1 April 2022

9 February 2022

Industrial action that may affect you 

Dear all, 

The University and College Union (UCU), a trade union representing University staff, has announced further dates for industrial action to take place at universities across the country. 

The 10 dates for strike action take place during the next three weeks:

First week: Monday 14 - Friday 18 February

Second week: Monday 21 and Tuesday 22 February 

Third week: Monday 28 - Wednesday 2 March 

The strike action is a result of ongoing disputes throughout the higher education sector on a number of national issues, including pay, pensions, and working conditions. 

For the majority of students at our University, the strike action will not significantly affect your education. This is because not all University staff are members of UCU, and not all members will choose to strike. The University will remain open throughout the strike dates, and most teaching will go ahead as usual. 

However, strike action means that some classes may not take place during the above dates. Wherever possible, your department will email you in advance if a class is affected - just like any staff absence. But we will not know in advance which classes are affected, so this may not always be possible.

If your teaching is cancelled as a result of strike action, you will not be recorded as an unauthorised absence. This means, if you’re an international student with a Tier 4 visa or Student visa, it will not be affected. 

I understand that some students will be more affected than others. We will do all we can to reduce the disruption to you, and support your learning and wellbeing. 

If you are currently studying remotely overseas until your arrival, it is still important that you make every effort to travel to Sheffield. Please continue to follow the guidance which the University is sharing with you directly, which includes support if you need it: https://www.sheffield.ac.uk/coronavirus/teaching#exceptions 

The strike action will be followed by action short of a strike, potentially until early May. This means some University staff may work to their contracted hours and duties and not to undertake voluntary activities. Beyond the strike dates announced above, no other teaching should be affected.

While these are national issues which we cannot resolve through actions undertaken here at Sheffield alone, we are continuing to feed our views to our national representatives and to urge all parties to reach a negotiated solution. Meanwhile, we are continuing to take steps to address staff concerns here at Sheffield: https://www.sheffield.ac.uk/industrial-action/national-issues 

If you have a question about industrial action which is not covered above, our web pages include further information, including wellbeing support. From Monday, you can also reach our dedicated support team to ask a specific question: www.sheffield.ac.uk/industrial-action

As ever, I will continue to update you with the latest information, as we work closely to address the concerns of our trade unions and colleagues. 

With best wishes,

Mary Vincent

Vice-President for Education

22 November 2021

The local branch of UCU has also obtained a mandate for industrial action in respect of their dispute with the University over changes to the Department of Archaeology and the School of Languages and Cultures. At this time we haven't had confirmation of what, if any, action they will call on UCU members at Sheffield to take, or when, in relation to this local dispute. We will continue to keep you updated.

18 November 2021

Industrial action that may affect you

Dear all,

As you may be aware, there are ongoing disputes throughout the higher education sector on a number of national issues, including pay, pensions, and working conditions.

The University and College Union (UCU), a trade union representing University staff, have gained a mandate for strike action at Sheffield and 57 other UK universities. 

UCU have announced that they intend to take strike action from Wednesday 1st - Friday 3rd December inclusive. 

For many of you, the strike action will have little impact on your education. Around 20% of University staff are members of UCU, and not all members will choose to strike. The University will remain open during this time, and the majority of teaching will go ahead as usual. 

However strike action means that some classes may not take place during these dates. 

While we will not know in advance exactly which classes will be affected, wherever possible your department should email in advance as they would with any staff absence. Please assume that your classes will take place unless notified otherwise. 

I’d like to reassure you that we will do everything possible to reduce the risk of disruption. However, if you are affected, we will do all we can to support your learning and wellbeing.

The strike action will be followed by continuous action short of a strike, with members asked to work to their contracted hours and duties and not to undertake voluntary activities. Action short of a strike will start on 1 December and end no later than 3 May 2022. This is unlikely to have an impact on activities which affect your education, such as teaching and marking. 

We are preparing a dedicated support team to support you with any questions related to strike action, and I will contact you again when this service is available. 

We are also working with the Students’ Union Officers to ensure the Students’ Union building remains a calm and welcoming place to gather and study throughout the strike action. 

For further guidance, we have collected important information about Industrial Action on these web pages

I will make sure you are kept updated with the latest information on any industrial action, as we continue to work with our trade unions and colleagues to address their concerns. 

With best wishes,

Mary Vincent

Vice-President for Education