21st November 2019

UCU Strike / Industrial Action

Find out about how we are supporting students through strike action and how we are supporting striking workers.

The University and College Union (UCU) will be on strike at 60 institutions, including our University, between the 25th November and 4th December.

This strike is a result of a dispute between members of The University and College Union (UCU) and their employers about pay and equalities, and pensions.

The Students' Union is representing student interests in negotiations between UCU and the University and will keep you regularly and properly informed during the industrial action. This work will be led by SU President Jake Verity and you will find his updates on these pages.

Chapters
  1. Strike Wellbeing and Solidarity
  2. SU Updates
  3. What is a strike or industrial action?

Strike Wellbeing and Solidarity

SU Council has agreed to the aims of the Students' Union during the planned industrial action:

Strike Wellbeing and Activities

Led by our Welfare Officer Beren Maddison, we are prioritising the wellbeing and welfare of students in the SU and university during the industrial action. Find out more about how you can access support, get stress busting information, and join in activities in our Strike Wellbeing and Activities web pages.

Support The Strike

Led by our Education Officer Charlie Porter, we are actively supporting the striking workers in the belief that their working conditions are our students' learning conditions. Find out more about the reasons behind this, how you can get involved, and activities and events you can attend in our Strike Solidarity website web pages.

The SU building remains a welcoming place for students to gather and study with friends in a calm space where everybody feels valued. SU outlets and services will be running business as usual. In addition, Levels 2 and 3 will be dedicated to student support and welfare, and level 4 will host strike support activity during the strike period..

SU Updates

The eight days of planned industrial action by the University and College Union (UCU) has now finished. I want to say thank you to all students for their support whilst our University staff protested over fair pay, equality, and a safe and secure retirement.

At the Students’ Union we actively support the striking workers, because the forces of marketisation eroding staff working conditions are doing the same to our learning conditions.

The SU pledged to support the strike whilst leading an active welfare and support campaign for students during strike action, and represent student interests during negotiations. We’re now working with the University on a plan to ensure students get a fair and reasonable outcome following lost teaching and reduced access to services. I’m sure you understand that negotiating this may take some time.

No agreement has been reached for UCU members, and so striking workers now enter ‘action short of a strike’. This means that staff will work to their contracts and job descriptions, they won’t take on any other form of unpaid labour that they may have done in the past.

We will keep you updated with any news on the UCU disputes as soon as we hear. If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to contact strike.advice@sheffield.ac.uk.

Thank you again,

Jake Verity
President
Sheffield Students' Union

Dear Students,

Myself, your Education Officer Charlie Porter and Welfare Officer Beren Maddison met with the Vice Chancellor of the University, Senior University Figures and members of the University and College Union (UCU) branch yesterday (Monday the 25th of November) to discuss student issues arising from the current strikes.

This was a constructive meeting in which we discussed a number of topics around both student welfare, and student learning and teaching.

Some of the topics that we raised included:

  1. Reimbursement scheme for students’ out of pocket expenses on things such as travel and childcare
  2. Implications for attendance monitoring for international students who don’t want to cross picket lines
  3. Ensuring student views are taken into account through Academic Representatives in decision making in how any strike funds are spent

We’ll continue to do everything we can to ensure you are represented as best as possible over the forthcoming weeks and months, and as soon as any details emerge on the above points we will update you further.

Yours sincerely,

Jake Verity
President
Sheffield Students' Union

SU President Jake Verity, has written an open letter to University Vice Chancellor, Koen Lamberts, about supporting students through forthcoming industrial action and ensuring their concerns are prioritised.

What is a strike or industrial action?

Industrial action is a general term for actions taken by members of a trade union in protest against their employer. The most common form of action is to go on strike, which is often the last resort after negotiations have failed.

A strike is when workers refuse to continue working because of an argument with an employer about working conditions, pay levels, or job losses.

This strike is a result of a dispute between members of The University and College Union (UCU) and their employers about pay and equalities, and pensions.

This might lead to some classes being cancelled on days when University teachers are taking industrial action.

You can find out more about the disputes on the University of Sheffield and UCU's websites.

What is a picket line?

A picket line is a form of protest, which involves workers establishing a boundary, often at the entrance to their place of work, which other people are asked not to cross.

You may be asked by workers on strike not to cross picket lines established in front of University buildings.

You should not be physically prevented from entering a building with a picket line, and there is official guidance on picket line behaviour. You may want to take the opportunity to speak to teaching staff on picket lines to find out more information about the strike.

Picket lines for this strike will generally finish at 11am each day.

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