UPDATE: The University of Sheffield have released a statement and some more information about the industrial action (see below).
Lecturers at the University of Sheffield are set to go on strike in less than three weeks, the University and College Union (UCU) have announced.
It comes after the results of a national ballot of UCU members was announced last week, and now 60 institutions across the country will strike in two separate legal disputes, one over pensions and one over pay equality. Some universities are only striking in one or the other, while the University of Sheffield is one of 43 universities which will see strike action over both issues.
The University will see strikes from Monday 25 November, in less than three weeks, until Wednesday 4 December, meaning a total of eight days of strikes.
UCU General Secretary Jo Grady said: “The first wave of strikes will hit universities later this month unless the employers start talking to us seriously about how they are going to deal with rising pension costs and declining pay and conditions.
“Any general election candidate would be over the moon with a result along the lines of what we achieved last week. Universities can be in no doubt about the strength of feeling on these issues and we will be consulting branches whose desire to strike was frustrated by anti-union laws about reballoting.”
Students’ Union Councillors at Sheffield SU will this week be asked to vote on whether the SU should support striking lecturers like they did in the previous dispute in 2018. The Student Executive Committee, made up of the SU Officers, is proposing a motion in favour of launching a solidarity campaign with the lecturers, while keeping students informed about the progress of the dispute.
Education Officer, Charlie Porter, said of the vote for strike action: “It’s a shame that it’s come to this situation again so soon after the previous strike. As a Students’ Union we’re working to support our students and defend their education.”
In a statement, Professor Koen Lamberts, President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Sheffield, said: “We understand that many staff at universities across the UK have concerns around pay and pensions in the sector and this was reflected in last week’s vote for industrial action following national ballots.
“At Sheffield, we recognise these are important issues and have been proactively and collaboratively working with our local trade unions to make the University a better place to work. Just last week, for example, we’ve agreed a joint statement with UCU on our new approach to casual teaching arrangements.
“It’s important to us that we’re able to offer our staff a good quality pension so we’ve also been working with UCU/trade union colleagues to respond to changes and to influence national debate on them. We have ensured that pension benefits remain the same but we know costs are increasing, which neither the University nor our staff welcome.
“While we respect the right of UCU or other trade union members to take industrial action, we have a responsibility to minimise any disruption to our students and staff who choose not to participate and will work hard to ensure that the impact of this action is minimal.”
The University also said that student wellbeing was their top priority in light of anxiety or uncertainty which could be caused by the strikes occurring during a busy period. They are working alongside their national representatives to resolve the sector-wide issue, they added, and have created informational webpages for students to access if they want to know more about the industrial action.
This was announced in an email to all students by Professor Wyn Morgan, Vice-President for Education, in an email to all students on Wednesday morning.