The cost of the course and travel expenses are covered by the branch. Please contact Joanne Ward our Branch Administrator if you would like to attend.
What’s the issue?
As you may have seen in recent updates, Unison has been in discussion with other Higher Education unions about the employers’ pay offer for 2018/19. Here’s what the unions asked for and what was offered by employers:
|Joint unions’ pay claim:||Employers’ pay offer:|
|7.5% or £1,500 + a minimum wage of £10 per hour
|2% or £425 (full time) whichever is higher
Due to the employers’ offer being significantly less than what was requested by all unions, Unison’s Higher Education Service Group Executive (HESGE) are recommending that members reject the employers’ offer.
How does this affect you?
- The offer made by employers amounts to a real terms pay cut, inflation is higher than the 2% proposal
- We have had several years of below inflation pay rises and yet living costs continue to rise, this offer does not address this
- In the current climate, we are facing staff cuts in several areas of the University, which means we are facing an increase in workload without a meaningful pay increase
What happens next?
The Sheffield Hallam University Unison Branch will be running a consultative ballot which will be open for 3 weeks from Monday 9th July – Monday 30th July. This isn’t a ballot for industrial action; it is your chance to tell the branch what you think about the pay offer.
The more members that vote, the more accurately we can represent the views of this branch, so please look out for further details and do take part.
In March we emailed to thank you for your contributions to the hardship fund of our striking colleagues at The University of Sheffield, who were fighting against the proposed changes to the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) pension fund. Our collection at the branch AGM raised £134.57 and £25 in food vouchers, and the Branch Committee passed an emergency motion to send a further £250. These funds were prioritised to striking UCU members at Sheffield undergoing financial hardship during the dispute – primarily lecturers on ‘casual’ contracts and postgraduate students with teaching responsibilities.
In April we received the following message of thanks from the UCU branch president at Sheffield:
On behalf of Sheffield UCU I would like to express our sincere thanks for your donation to the local strike hardship fund. Your solidarity is much appreciated and we would want to reciprocate should your branch have a future need.
The dispute ended on 13th April with 64% of the affected members voting to accept an offer from Universities UK. The offer promised the convening of a ‘Joint Expert Panel’ to ‘agree key principles to underpin the future joint approach of UUK and UCU to the valuation of the USS fund’ and to explore alternative scheme designs with a view to preserving the Defined Benefit scheme. For now at least, the proposed move to Defined Contribution has been taken off the table.
However many branches – including Sheffield – are deeply unhappy about the offer negotiated by the UCU Higher Education Committee and Leadership. The failure to secure a ‘no detriment’ clause, the proposed Joint Expert Panel’s lack of transparency, and what some view as the tacit promotion of the UUK offer by UCU leadership led a number of branches to try and unseat the General Secretary at UCU’s national conference this month. This effort resulted in some fraught scenes and ultimately did not succeed, but controversy around the leadership’s perceived failure of its members is unlikely to go away.
Despite these current difficulties, it is important to recognise what our UCU colleagues have achieved. In what was possibly the biggest ever strike in UK Higher Education, UCU members managed to unite lecturers, support staff and students in opposition to the proposals. Public support remained high throughout the dispute, and – remarkably – even the Conservative Universities Minister failed to condemn the action when given the chance.
In the longer term the successful action has showcased the financial viability of shared Defined Benefit schemes, and also hopefully warded off any immediate questions around post-92 universities’ participation in TPS and LGPS. A change in the law is required to remove our right to access these schemes, however calls for ‘fairness’ and parity with USS would undoubtedly have been used against us if the strike had failed. The strike also symbolised for many a strong rejection of the continued marketisation of Higher Education.
The branch extends its best wishes and thanks to our UCU colleagues, for their courageous defence of our employment rights.
The Branch welcomes the decision to delay the PSOM consultation briefings.
The Branch expects that:
● The delay will not lead to any reduction in the time available for consultation
● That the revised timeline will be realistic and achievable
● That the information available to Unions and affected staff for this and all future phases will be accurate and complete
The Branch notes concerns which have been raised by members in some affected areas following the circulation of the Background Information document, in particular:
● That various statements have been made which are felt to be at odds with evidence or feedback submitted, causing concern as to the validity of the proposals.
● The potential negative effect on the student experience in September of the current frontline proposals.
● The apparent lack of involvement of staff at all levels in some areas has led to a lack of confidence that the proposals are fit for purpose.
● That the University is rushing to make radical changes to service provision on an overambitious timescale, putting both student experience and staff at risk without the confidence that these changes will be successful.
The Branch expects that:
● The project team ensures its proposals are evidence-based and clearly explained in the consultation document.
● That staff are given adequate time to read documents in order to be able to respond effectively.
● The consultation is meaningful and genuine and that the response to feedback is comprehensive and reflects openness to changes to the proposals.
● The consultation will involve both affected staff and professional services stakeholders
The Branch is seriously concerned about the likelihood of large numbers of job losses, and reiterates our opposition to compulsory redundancies. We expect the University to work to avoid redundancies, in line with the Change Principles.
Proposed: Dan J Bye
Seconded: Lucinda Wakefield
We hope that members have been able to sign up for one of the open briefing sessions on the Professional Services Operating Model: https://portal.shu.ac.uk/Pages/AllNews.aspx#237. If you haven’t please let the Branch know, to help us make the case for more sessions.
UNISON has received formal notification that consultation on proposals for the future shape of professional services is beginning, and so it is crucial that there is full engagement with the open meetings.
At this point UNISON has several concerns.
First of all, although many people have been involved with the PSOM project in various ways, many others have not – and we now need to ensure that everyone has an opportunity and adequate time to participate in the consultation.
Secondly, management have said they are committed to genuine and meaningful consultation. We believe that this means sufficient detail must be available to enable us to understand what is being proposed – not just structures, but also how services will be delivered, and whether there are any proposed changes to terms and conditions, and what they mean. Without sufficient detail we will not be able to assess whether the principles of the PSOM are being properly applied in the interests of students and the University, or whether cost-cutting has become the primary driver. It is acknowledged that the PSOM project has still not completed its work, and that consultation will happen in stages, but that adds complexities which need careful planning and clear and transparent communication.
At this point we are not yet reassured that the necessary information will be published, but we are working to ensure that it is.
Linked to this is the point that the timescales that are planned are ambitiously fast. But a large and complex group of staff and services need to be handled with care if serious mistakes are to be avoided. It cannot be done at breakneck pace.
Thirdly, management have denied that there are any arbitrary targets for job losses, but we do know that it is envisaged that professional services will be “smaller” – this has been stated in public and in writing (for example, in Richard Calvert’s recent message). In any case there are agreed commitments to avoid compulsory redundancies, and UNISON will want to ensure that we stick to them – but this also means making sure that staff are prepared and supported, and that the sequencing of any changes does not shut anyone out.
Finally, I envisage that we will need to hold some open meetings for members to discuss the PSOM consultation, among other activities. We will keep you informed as things develop, and will also be working alongside our colleagues in other unions. And please, ensure that your local steward or the Branch is made aware of any issues in your area – and talk to your colleagues about the importance of joining a strong union.
Dan J Bye
UNISON Branch Secretary
Are you looking for a challenge?
Why not stand for one of the following officer roles?
Communication Officer – Creating a positive image for the branch
Membership Officer – Develop recruitment and organising members
Welfare Officer – Making sure members seeking welfare assistance receive a prompt, supportive and effective response
Young Members Officer – Make sure young peoples’ voices are heard
Education Co-Ordinator – Training courses and education programmes for members, stewards, health and safety reps and branch officers
Equality Co-Ordinator – Stand up for equality. Equality is at the heart of the union
Contact Dan Bye, Branch Secretary if you would like to know more.
If you are interested in attending any of the following events, click the event for further details.
The closing date for application forms is Friday 16 February.
Our AGMs need to be quorate and to achieve this we need you.
Come and hear what the branch has been doing over the last year and where we are going in the future.
This is an opportunity to have your voice heard – and enjoy a free lunch! The meeting can be taken as work time so there’s no need to use up your flexi (lunch is in your own time).
Book your ticket > agm2018 for one of the following events.