As we enter the fourth day of strike action, the sheer amount of support shown by students has been absolutely overwhelming. We’ve seen hundreds of students visit staff on the picket lines and join the rally to support our staff on Friday. The outpouring of solidarity from students and the community has both empowered and encouraged our staff as well as showing the university management that students don’t blame workers for the disruption and will not stand for this savage attack on their pensions.
Several university Vice-Chancellors have so far spoken out against UUK’s proposals and expressed sympathy with UCU’s action. Support for UUK’s proposals is lessening by the day, with the Financial Times even coming out criticising it.
In our open letter, we have called on our Vice-Chancellor Sir Keith Burnett to speak out against the proposals, as well as put money deducted from striking workers’ pay towards grants and bursaries. Unfortunately, Sir Keith has still not listened to us on this, and has not come out in favour of retaining defined benefit pensions. You may have seen an open letter sent from him to the Chief Executive of UUK, asking for negotiations to resume. This is a start, but merely calling for renewed negotiations is not enough.
Talks are set to take place tomorrow between UCU and UUK. This is good news, and shows the impact we have had already, but nothing is set to change at this stage. Unfortunately one of the pre-conditions of these talks taking place is that they will not discuss retaining defined benefits. UCU will rightfully not be calling off the strike until an adequate commitment to a compromise is made.
Yesterday we met with university managers Gill Valentine, Wyn Morgan and Ian Wright to discuss the use of money saved from staff pay as a result of strike action, as well as other issues affecting students. We were disappointed that no commitment was made to using the money for such ends, and little clarity was given on how the funds would specifically be spent. We will be meeting again to discuss this.
The past few days have seen some of the most vibrant activity and campaigning on campus in years. The momentum is in our favour, and we need to keep it up. There’s so many ways you can be a part of it:
Campaign Open Meeting
Join student campaigners and those newly involved to help shape the next steps of the campaign. What next?
Tuesday 27th February (today), 4:30pm, Fusion
MARCH - Save Staff Pensions!
Join staff and students on Wednesday to march for fair pensions and the future of our education!
Wednesday 28th February, 12pm, starting outside the IC
We encourage all students to visit picket lines and show your support for staff that are there.
Find them outside most university buildings (Firth Court, Elmfield, Hicks, Jessop West etc.), go any time from 7:30 to 11am.
The past couple of weeks have made us truly proud to represent Sheffield Students’ Union and be a part of the community that exists here at the University of Sheffield. Students and workers: unite and fight!
Kieran Maxwell (SU President) and Stuart McMillan (SU Education Officer)