Diary of Events: October 2023

Sheffield Trades Council

Saturday 7th October Latin America Day School

0945hrs to 1615hrs Quaker Meeting House, St James Street S1.  Hosted by Sheffield Trades Council, Sheffield Cuba Solidarity Campaign, Chile Solidarity Network, Jubilee Movement Sheffield, Alborada, Sheffield Left.

“Economic and ecological crises are bearing down with greatest intensity on workers and poor people in Latin America and other regions of the global South, made much worse by reckless exploitation of their natural resources and living labour by capitalist corporations based in Britain and other rich countries. The struggles in Britain against austerity, union-busting, climate destruction, profiteering corporations, racism & fascism and much else are indissolubly connected to struggles against these same evils in Latin America. We have much to learn from the often much more advanced experiences of workers and youth in Latin America. Solidarity, and seeing ourselves as part of the world, makes us stronger.”

Saturday 7th October Rally for our Bus Services

Organised by Better Buses South

Better Buses for South Yorkshire

Campaign stall in Sheffield: Wednesday 4th October, 11.30 – 1pm (top of the Moor)

Saturday 7th October  Protest re Government’s anti-Boycott Bill

12 noon outside Sheffield Town Hall. National Day of Action by Right to Boycott Coalition.

The government has tabled an anti-boycott bill with the aim of preventing public authorities, like local councils, local government pension funds, unions or universities, from making ethical choices about spending or investment.

The government’s main target is campaigns in support of Palestinian rights but those pushing for action against deforestation, environmental pollution, and the exploitation of children and workers could also be affected.

This toxic bill will erode local democracy, restrict freedom of expression, and undermine campaigns for social and climate justice.

Saturday 21st October “Socialist republic of South Yorkshire -Resisting Thatcherism in the 1980’s

1pm-5pm Broomhall Centre, Broomspring Lane S10 2FD.

Sheffield Transformed is hosting a free workshop to explore how left-wing activists and politicians in 1980s Sheffield attempted to resist the dominance of Thatcherism and implement their own political ideas.

During the 1980s, the term ‘Socialist Republic of South Yorkshire’ was coined to describe the region’s left-wing political culture. With contributions from historians and local campaigners, this workshop will examine the left-wing, trade union, feminist, and anti-racist activism that made up the Socialist Republic. We’ll discuss what we can learn from this pivotal period in political history and how we can apply it to our present situation.

Saturday 21st October Stand Up to Racism National Organising Conference. 

11am to 4pm Hamilton House, Mabledon Place, London WC1H 9BB

Neville Lawrence father of Stephen is confirmed to speak – book your place now tinyurl.com/SUTR23c


Last week, along with hundreds of other delegates from across the UK, I attended UNISON’s National Delegate Convention, the democratic decision making body at the heart of our union. Many important motions were discussed and I will provide a full report to members soon.Next month, our new National Executive Council meet to take forward the resolutions made at conference. Understanding the structure of our union can be daunting, even for those of us who have been activists for some time. If you want to read more about the democratic decison making bodies that run your union, see here: UNISON democracy and electionsBeing active in the union means involving ourselves in these democratic processes, and we are always looking for more stewards and officers. If you think you or a colleague might be suited to a particular role, please get in contact with the branch. Vacancies and contact details for current activists can be found here: Contacts

PAY 2023/24 UPDATE

HE PAY 2023-24

Following the imposition of the pay award for 2023/24, and the continued dispute over the previous year’s award, members might have received emails from UNISON National HQ and seen messages on social media regarding ballots for strike action at some HE UNISON branches. Our branch is not included in this ballot. As a committee we were disappointed not to be included in the list of HE branches being balloted, and we know, both from personal conversations and the responses to last years questionnaire, that many of our members will feel the same way. We know that this round of balloting is unlikely to be the last. We also know that the number of ballots, online and postal, can be confusing for many members. Alongside this there are communications from national, regional and branch levels of the union which can overwhelm many. We are exploring ways to differentiate our local messaging from the national and regional, as suggested by members at our AGM, and hopefully provide a clearer, more focused line of communications for members.


The last 12 months or so have presented new challenges for the Students Union (SU). A move away from the NJC last year (which had previously formed the basis for pay increases) coupled with the pressures of a rising cost of living has meant that UNISON have been more involved than ever in negotiating fair pay increases for staff – but there’s still a long way to go. With pay negotiations for the 22/23 financial year finally being agreed in February of this year, negotiations around an increase for 23/24 are ongoing. As part of this period of change, SU UNISON reps Maddie and John, along with branch secretary Dan Bye now have monthly meetings with the Executive Team. Alongside this, a recent survey of our members within the SU has provided us with great insight into where we should focus our efforts, ensuring that members’ voices are heard.We have seen great progress in many areas, with staff on temporary contracts being offered permanent contracts, cleaning staff being offered real living wage, a review of staff salary and pay grades. Along with the executive team, we are now looking into the possible implementation of a 4 day working week in the Students’ Union, which would be a radical and positive change to our ways of working.  As a Students’ Union, staff salary is tied closely with a block grant administered by the university, so if you want to help our fellow members at the SU, the best thing you can do is make sure you find out more about our services, and shout about our successes where you can. One of the biggest challenges the SU faces is visibility within the university, and every little helps!



As members are no doubt aware, UCU continue their industrial action through a marking and assessment boycott. Our UCU colleagues here at Sheffield Hallam have sent the following message:“UCU members at SHU are taking part in the national UCU marking and assessment boycott, which involves cessation of all summative assessment activity. The main impact is that marks may not be provided to the requested deadlines. UCU members recognise the difficulties this may cause for professional services staff and would like to apologise and to clarify that, since it is a dispute between UCU and employers, senior managers should deal with the problems without pressuring professional services staff.”SHU management have made a local decision to deduct 100% pay from UCU members participating in the boycott, which members believe is punitive and has effectively put an end to the rest of their work during the boycott period, thereby exacerbating the impact on students and colleagues. To reduce this impact, it would be much appreciated if staff involved in assessment administration could reply to requests from UCU members to clarify when marks are no longer required; UCU members will then be able to return to their other duties.”The following guidance has also been circulated by UNISON’s national office:“UNISON respects the rights of other trade unions to take industrial action and wishes to support them where it can do so. We urge members to consider supporting legal protests organised by other trade unions that take place outside your contracted hours of work. However, UNISON members are advised to continue working their normal duties and responsibilities and must refrain from joining the industrial action taken by other unions unless it has been authorised by UNISON. This is because it may otherwise be viewed as unofficial industrial action endorsed by the union or some form of misconduct by the individual(s) concerned.  UNISON members should carry out any reasonable management instruction given to them in accordance with their contract of employment, which could include duties they do not normally carry out on a day-to-day basis, but which are within their capabilities and commensurate with their grade. Members should bear in mind that any refusal to carry out a reasonable management instruction could potentially give the employer a strong argument that misconduct has occurred. In accordance with s.237 of TULRCA 1992, our members in the circumstances described above are likely to lose protection from dismissal if they refuse to cross a picket line and/or choose to join in the industrial action of other unions.”“Members who are unsure whether or not they need to carry out duties they have been asked to undertake should contact their UNISON rep, branch or region for further advice and support. Members are reminded that due to the current legislation only those employees who have been involved in a legal ballot where we met the 50% turnout threshold with a majority yes vote are allowed to take industrial action.”





There are a couple of upcoming opportunities to become more involved in climate action at work, something we know from our end of year survey many members are concerned about.The first of these is Sheffield Hallam’s Climate Champion Network. As part of our branches drive to organise around environmental issues we are encouraging members to step forward for these Climate Champion roles. While we, along with many members we have spoken to, have reservations about these roles (the additional pressure they put on members, the effectiveness of action mediated through the University’s own structures, and so on) we believe that critical engagement with the network will allow us to effectively identify key areas for action. Through the understanding we gain from our members engagement we will be able to uncover the organisational problems that are the key obstacles to effective climate action. UNISON will provide support for members stepping up to jon the network through our own climate organsing group. Please contact our Environment Officer Tom Kistell (Contacts) if you are plan on, or already are, volunteering as a Climate Champion. You can find the form to express your interest in this role and to attend a preliminary meeting of the network this Wednesday (21st) on the staff intranet: Climate Champions eventThe second opportunity is an invitation to meet and organise around climate action with trade unionists from across South Yorkshire. Organised by Sheffield Trades Council ‘Buildling a Workforce for the Climate Emergency: Putting workers first in the fight against climate change’ will take place on Saturday 15th July, 10am-4pm at the Quaker Meeting House, 10 Saint James St, Sheffield, S1 2EW and will consist of a series of workshops to discuss how we get climate jobs in:

  • renewable energy
  • transport
  • education and training – skilling up a workforce for the climate emergency

We encourage all members to join us to discuss what climate change really means for workers and how rising energy prices, inflation, falling wages and the climate crisis are not only connected but being driven by the same system.The event is free, please book your place here: STUC Climate WorkshopsSTUC Climate Jobs








Finally, Shell’s boss recently took home a £9.7million pay packet – while public service workers have to take industrial action to secure fair pay. It doesn’t have to be this way: windfall taxes in other countries have raised far more for the public purse, and kept bills far lower.Sign UNISON’s petition now and tell the Chancellor to make oil and gas giants – not ordinary households – pay the priceWindfall tax petition


“After a well deserved payrise, the trust are trying to claw back the money with a blanket 5% cost increase on parking, catering and childcare to all its staff. We at UNISON call on the trust to reverse this cynical move! Care about the carers that make this NHS trust work!”“This was a cynical move, released on a bank holiday weekend to hide the obvious uncosted price hike, hits the lowest paid trust employees the hardest. Support your hard working NHS staff! Don’t give with one hand and take back with the other!”Sign the petition here: Sheffield Teaching Hospital petition



UNISON runs regular free courses for its members. If you are interested and wish to book a place, contact Rose on r.bent@unison.co.ukOnline courses:

  • Unconscious Bias on 19 June at 10am – 11.30am via zoom
  • Deaf Awareness & BSL on 20 June at 10am – 1pm via zoom
  • Self-Harm Awareness on 3 July at 12pm – 2pm via Teams
  • Makaton: Baby & Young Children Signing on 7 July at 10am – 11.30am via zoom
  • Managing Challenging Behaviour on 12 July at 2pm – 5pm via zoom

In-Person courses (Leed office):

  • Dyslexia Understood on 30 June at 10am – 4pm
  • Presentation Skills on 10 July at 10am – 4pm

To apply for the in-person courses above, please contact your branch for approval. Alternatively contact r.bent@unison.co.uk who will forward your request to your branch.Further details of all courses can be found here: Courses Jun-Jul 23That’s all for now. As ever, if you have any concerns, questions or ideas you’d like to put into action, get in contact with your local rep or officer: Contacts


What is your role in the branch?

I’ve been a member of Unison since I first joined SHU. I’ve been a Rep / Shop Steward for the last 3 years, and I’ve recently become the Membership Officer a few weeks ago.

How and why did you become involved in UNISON? 

I’ve always recognised the importance of Trade Unions, and I’ve seen first-hand how essential they are in previous work before joining Sheffield Hallam in 2011, so it was an easy decision to join a union here too. I became a Rep / Shop Steward three years ago when my department went through its latest restructure. It’s the 4th I had been through since joining SHU, and so I’ve seen first-hand how stressful, difficult and unpleasant they can be for so many of my colleagues. This restructure was looking like it may be particularly brutal, and I decided I should do what I can to support everyone in the department by becoming more active in the Union

What issues do you feel trade unions should be focussing on?

All the issues the Trade Unions deal with are vital and worthy of focus, but if I had to highlight a few at the moment, I would say in the short-term Pay is the most obvious and pressing issue in light of the wider political and economic climate in the country. Ordinary people have been made to foot the bill for the incompetence and corruption of the last thirteen years, and they face more difficult financial circumstances and greater hostility from the current government than they have for decades. It is heartening to see so many of our friends in Unison and many other unions are finding a renewed voice and courage to stand up for themselves and demand fairness and justice.

In the slightly longer term, I personally think two key issues are Workers’ Rights and Climate Change. The government looks determined to severely curtail our workers’ rights when the EU law Revocation and Reform Bill comes into action at the end of December 2023 and could see the end of essential rights for all of us that we’ve all been protected by for many years. Regarding Climate Change, which unions are becoming ever more active on, if we don’t take drastic action to address the catastrophe we’re currently heading towards, then all other issues will pale in comparison, and again, it will be us ordinary people who suffer. Those with power always ensure their own survival and comfort at our expense. The importance of people coming together to make a united stand has never been more urgent.


Beat the Cost of Living Crisis

-Support the Strikes!




“Don’t tell us to not to demand a pay rise

when inflation has hit 14% RPI!”

“Sheffield TUC will continue to give maximum solidarity support to workers taking strike action in the face of an unprecedented cost of living crisis” said Martin Mayer Secretary Sheffield Trade Union Council. “This week it’s the turn of RMT rail workers, CWU Royal Mail workers, RCN Nurses and UNITE Shelter workers, and supporters will be joining picket lines and collecting money to support the strikes” he said.

RMT rail workers to stage 48-hour strikes from this week:

Tuesday 13th/ Wednesday 14th December and Friday 16th/Saturday 17th December

Until last week, rail workers had received no pay offer at all for 2022, and have had no pay increase for 3 years. Negotiations only delivered a 4% pay offer but that was conditional on huge changes to terms and conditions including Driver Only Trains on all services, closure of all ticket offices and other cuts, which the RMT has refused. RMT recently re-balloted its members for strike action and received an overwhelming mandate. Everyone knows it’s the Government that is holding back the Train Operators from settling this dispute, yet refuse to negotiate directly with the union. Where the Government is not involved, settlements have been reached e.g. ScotRail, Welsh Rail and the direct access train operators.

Royal Mail CWU strikes

Royal Mail members have had an unagreed 2 per cent pay deal imposed on them. This was at a time when RPI inflation was running at 11.8% (it is now 14.5%) and when Royal Mail had announced Group profits of £758 million – of which most was paid out in dividends  to private shareholders! In a national strike ballot over pay, Royal Mail CWU members voted by a massive 97.6 per cent majority to take action. CWU members have also voted by 98.7% on a 72.2% turnout for strike action in defence of the “Pathway to Change” national agreement. The Royal Mail company leadership has reneged on the Pathway to Change agreement’s Key Principles and has begun to impose changes without negotiation and without agreement, with serious adverse consequences for working conditions. CWU repos have faced bullying and harassment by management with many reps unfairly suspended, and the company is one of the first to use new Tory laws to allow agency workers to break strikes.

UNITE Shelter Workers are on 2 weeks solid strike

These dedicated social care sector workers do marvelous work helping the homeless struggle against a scandalous social housing crisis in the UK. But this well-respected charity has offered a paltry 3% to its workers in spite of a massive £14.5M reserve of funds that could easily finance a proper cost of living pay rise.

Commenting on the decision to go on strike, one member of Shelter’s staff said: “The work we undertake, particularly in frontline services, is so valuable and clients depend on our teams. But that shouldn’t mean they have to sacrifice a decent and dignified living because the work they are drawn to is in this sector. At the very base level, absolute bare minimum, those working for a housing charity shouldn’t be experiencing housing insecurity as a result of being unable to pay rent.” Another added: “I really care about the work and I think it’s recognised that I work hard – but I don’t feel right now my employer cares about me. I’m a single parent. I’m now in overdraft every month, I go around switching my lights off, I have turned my boiler down, I get stressed when the kids school wants me to pay for another school trip. The best acknowledgement my employer can give me for all my hard work is decent pay.”


RCN Nurses strike on 15th December (but not in Sheffield -nearest strike is in Nottingham)

The NHS is one of the best things about our country and it is falling apart due to massive austerity cuts over the last 12 years. Britain now has fewer hospitals and a huge loss of beds – Germany has three times the number of beds per head of population than we do. Severe staff shortages make the situation even worse, and a collapsed social care sector when too many sick and elderly people are stuck in hospital with nowhere else to go. Seven million people are waiting for NHS operations. Patients are stuck in the back of queuing ambulances. Nursing staff make up more than half of the NHS workforce, and they are pushed to breaking point. Care is not safe and patients are paying the price. For the first time in history, nurses are left with no choice but to go on strike. Unfair pay is forcing too many to leave. Over 25,000 nurses left last year alone. Without nursing staff, there will be no NHS. Nursing staff always speak up for patients – now we are speaking up for the nurses.


“Workers cannot afford another cut to their living standards after 12 years of austerity and stagnant /falling real incomes,” said Martin Mayer. “The current cost of living crisis is causing severe hardship across our communities and with RPI inflation now nearly 15%, millions of households face hunger and unheated homes this winter. We totally reject the Tories’ notion that cost of living increases will damage the economy. Britain is the 5th wealthiest country in the world but the wealth is not distributed fairly. If working class communities are made poorer still, then the economy will suffer from collapsing demand for goods and services. We demand a proper pay rise now for all workers. If you are not in a union, join one now!” concluded Martin Mayer