PSOM: Vote of No Confidence Passed Overwhelmingly

UNISON members at Sheffield Hallam back no-confidence motion

UNISON’s vote of no confidence in the implementation of the Professional Services Operating Model (Student & Academic Services and Faculty Central Services phase) was launched on 23rd November and concluded at noon on Wednesday 5th December.

Thank you to all our members who participated: each of you helped deliver a credibly big turnout and made our collective voice louder.  

The result:

In total, 240 members took part, with 95% agreeing with the no confidence motion.

As expected, the majority of members who voted identified as part of SAS/Faculty Services .  Again 95% of voters from this area agreed with the no confidence motion.

We believe that this result demonstrates the depth and strength of feeling among members (which we are sure will be shared by non-members too), that the changes are being rushed in for January without adequate preparation, training or communication.     

On Wednesday afternoon, UNISON’s Branch Committee considered the very clear mandate that this vote has given us, and agreed to request an urgent meeting with Richard Calvert, Chief Operating Officer, and senior management in order to raise members’ concerns in detail.   We expect members’ concerns to be listened to and acted upon to restore damaged morale.

We will keep members informed of progress. 

Dan J Bye, UNISON Branch Secretary

Voluntary Living Wage – a qualified welcome


The National Minimum Wage became law in 1998, taking effect the following year.  It introduced different minimum hourly rates according to age bands. In 2015, George Osborne announced that for over-25s, the minimum wage would be renamed the National Living Wage and increased significantly.  This was primarily a way of outflanking the Labour Party, which had proposed a lower rise in the minimum wage.   The change was introduced from 2016.

 Confusingly, a voluntary “living wage” has been in existence since 2011, arising from campaigning going back to the early 2000s.   The Living Wage Foundation sets the level of the voluntary – or as we prefer to call it, Real Living Wage based on the cost of living.  The aim is to provide a worker with the minimum pay rate required to provide their family with the essentials of life, which the statutory so-called National Living Wage does not do.    Employers signing up to the Voluntary Living Wage undertake to maintain the pay of their lowest paid staff at the independently set level, and are recognised for doing so.

 Here at Sheffield Hallam, UNISON first raised the Real Living Wage issue back in 2012.  We therefore welcomed the University’s decision to pay the Voluntary Living Wage to our lowest paid colleagues from August.  

 This takes the form of a Voluntary Living Wage Supplement, paid to staff on Grade 2 (we do not use Grade 1 here) and the first spinal point of Grade 3 whose hourly rate would otherwise fall below that rate.  There are over 100 people impacted by this move.

 The Voluntary Living Wage was adjusted to £9 per hour in November, and affected staff should see that reflected in their pay packets soon.  

 Our welcome for this move is a qualified one, however, because the University has decided not to become an accredited Voluntary Living Wage employer.  Also, the method chosen to pay the Real Living Wage – a supplement on top of basic pay – flattens out the pay levels for staff on Grade 2.  Nor does the supplement apply to contract staff and casual staff who are not counted as employees, although it does apply to placement students and apprentices.

 Nevertheless, the move is a genuinely progressive move that benefits a large number of workers, and we hope that it will be maintained in the years to come.

PRE-RETIREMENT WORKSHOP

Fri 7 December 2018 (Apply by: 5 November 2018)

Non-residential at UNISON Regional Centre, Commerce House, Leeds

This workshop, run by True Bearing Chartered, will make you aware of your choices and aid you in your decision making around retirement.

Is this workshop for me?

If you are retiring imminently or considering retiring within the next 18 months and want to be informed of the issues affecting your retirement you need to plan for your next phase of life.

By the end of the workshop you will be able to:

• Create your own route path from the world of work to the world of retirement,

• Identify changes in both pensions and financial regulations which will affect your retirement decisions,

• Identify the long term issues affecting your retirement,

• Identify personal and lifestyle actions which will help to improve your retirement,

• Start the process of planning for a successful retirement.

At True Bearing Chartered we can provide you with comprehensive independent financial advice to improve your financial security.

Cost to Branches: £10

If you would like to attend please email unisonadministrator@shu.ac.uk

 

BRANCH WELFARE SCHEME

When a member has been off work due to illness for six weeks or more our branch would like to send a card to wish them well and to remind them of the support services UNISON offer.

As part of the scheme we also offers a welfare gift to the member with the choice of one of the following gifts: chocolates, flowers or a fruit/veg box.

If you know of a UNISON member in your area who is off sick please let us know by  emailing unisonadministrator@shu.ac.uk  with their name and we will get in touch.

UCU PENSION DISPUTE UPDATE

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.

 

I, DANIEL BLAKE SCREENING

I Daniel Blake

Come to a special screening of Ken Loach’s award-winning film I, Daniel Blake, provided by Sheffield Trade Union Council.

Daniel Blake (59) has worked as a joiner most of his life. Now, for the first time ever, he needs help from the state. A deeply moving, starkly realistic story of a man thrust into the benefits system after suffering a heart attack.

7pm, Monday 23 January

Trades and Labour Club, 200 Duke Street Sheffield S2 5QQ

Entrance free but donation of £2 welcome to cover cost

 

A NEW MASS MOVEMENT AGAINST RACISM

In October 2016 over 1,500 people – including Jeremy Corbyn, Diane Abbott and Alf Dubs – launched a mass movement against racism.

The idea is to build a network of activists within local communities and amongst the trade union movement to combat attempts to divide ordinary people by defending the positive migrant workers play in Britain, support refugees and confront racism, islamophobia and antisemitism.

At our last Branch Committee a motion was passed to

  • affiliate to Stand Up to Racism, publicise its initiatives to members in our branch, and to be part of the Sheffield Stand Up to Racism Committee
  • send two delegates from our branch (as well as our union banner) to the Stand Up to Racism Trade Union Conference on 4 February 2017 in London
  • support and build the TUC-backed Stand Up to Racism demonstration on 18 March (UN Anti-Racism Day)

With this in mind, the branch is supporting and inviting members to attending the following protest in Sheffield, which is part of a number of protests organised around the country in solidarity with those who will be protesting in America.

No to Trump’s racism

Protest his inauguration

Friday 20 January

5pm

Outside Sheffield Town Hall

https://www.facebook.com/events/187539855047814/