Industrial action: February - March 2020

The University and College Union (UCU) intends to take further strike action here in Sheffield and at around 73 other universities from next week, as a result of ongoing concerns over pensions, pay and working conditions.

We appreciate that this will be a difficult and challenging time for our entire university community. Our industrial action planning group will continue to meet and will make it a priority to mitigate any impact on education, learning and research, whilst ensuring the welfare of colleagues and students.

We will continue to keep colleagues regularly updated. We have updated our FAQs and our industrial action web pages. If you have any questions or queries, you can also email: industrial.action@shefffield.ac.uk

We have also prepared the below summary which outlines the current situation.

When is the strike action taking place?

The proposed 14 strike dates are spread over four weeks, as follows:

Thursday 20 and Friday 21 February
Monday 24, Tuesday 25 and Wednesday 26 February
Monday 2, Tuesday 3, Wednesday 4 and Thursday 5 March
Monday 9, Tuesday 10, Wednesday 11, Thursday 12 and Friday 13 March

The ongoing UCU action short of a strike (ASOS) continues.

What do I need to do if I’m intending to strike?

The University fully respects the right of staff to take industrial action and our position on managing it is available here. We will be writing to all staff again next week with further information. In the meantime, please visit our updated FAQs.

What about staff not taking action?

We acknowledge that many staff will choose not to participate in the industrial action. If you are intending to work as normal and not take industrial action we would like to thank you in advance for your support in minimising the disruption to our students and to each other. Please also see our updated FAQs.

What is being done to resolve the dispute?

Since the last round of strikes ended in early December 2019, positive talks relating to both disputes have taken place between all national representatives.

Following the publication of the Joint Expert Panel's second report (JEP2) in December 2019, Universities UK (UUK), UCU and USS have met a number of times to discuss the recommendations of the JEP2 report and to seek to agree common aims for the scheme. These talks are reported to have been positive and constructive and focussed on building a common understanding on the future of the scheme, the 2020 valuation and governance issues. There has been an agreement that these talks will continue through February and March 2020, with more meetings scheduled.

The Universities and Colleges Employers' Association (UCEA), which represents 147 HE employers in national pay bargaining, has continued talks with UCU over the national pay dispute and last week offered national level proposals on matters relating to casual working, workloads and gender/ethnicity pay gaps.

What is being done at Sheffield?

This is a sector-wide dispute which means that we cannot resolve the national issues through actions undertaken in Sheffield alone.

However we continue to work constructively with our local trade union colleagues on a range of issues. These include gender and ethnicity pay gaps, workloads and casual working, which are at the heart of the national dispute. You can read more about our joint work here.

Our President and Vice-Chancellor, Koen Lamberts, has continued to lobby national representatives to work collectively to reach a negotiated solution.

We have been unequivocal in our support of the Joint Expert Panel (JEP) and see it as key to establishing the future approach to the operation of the sector-wide USS pension scheme. We are working with UCU colleagues in responding to various consultations regarding the JEP2 report and, in due course, the 2020 USS Valuation. You can read all of our responses to the consultations so far here.