Staff at Sheffield Hallam University’s Students’ Union are fearful for their jobs, following the start of formal consultation this week on proposals to restructure the organisation and slash staff numbers. 40% of Students’ Union staff have been formally placed “at risk”.
Management claim that the proposals are necessary to increase student engagement, prioritise representation, and decrease operating costs. Staff in the Union’s commercial operations, helpdesk and marketing teams are hardest hit under proposals which would see an expansion in the use of placement students on zero-hours contracts. But UNISON members at the Union point to years to underinvestment by Sheffield Hallam University, the impact of COVID-19 on commercial activities, and longstanding staff dissatisfaction with the leadership and direction of the Students Union.
The proposals could not come at a worse time for staff already feeling demoralised but working extremely hard for students during the COVID-19 pandemic. UNISON opposes compulsory redundancies and is working with members on alternative proposals to defend jobs.
Last week you will all hopefully have received through the post a ballot paper for you to vote in OUR union’s General Secretary elections.
In a member-led union, UNISON encourages you to be heard and to have a say in who you think should be our next General Secretary.
SHU UNISON have nominated Paul Holmes for General Secretary because:
- Members of the Branch know him through his regional work in South Yorkshire:
- Paul has the best record of leadership and fighting for members.
- Paul is the members’ candidate, from the shop floor.
- Paul will take the job on his current wage of £32,000, declining the £138,000 available.
- Paul will massively increase funding to branches so we can support you better.
- Paul has a track-record of winning disputes and elections, other candidates do not.
- Paul’s leadership will be inclusive, developing talents from across our whole union and involving retired members.
- Paul is popular across UNISON and can win.
The Ballot will run from 28th October until 27th November 2020.
The ballot is postal-only. Make sure you vote!
As you may know already, Dave Prentis is retiring as UNISON general secretary at the end of the year, and an election is currently underway.
The prospective list of candidates for election as General Secretary are: Paul Holmes, Christina McAnea, Roger McKenzie, Hugo Pierre and Peter Sharma.
To get on the ballot, candidates must be nominated by at least 25 of UNISON’s 834 local branches who are participating in the election.
Our branch agreed at the branch committee on 9th September to hold a nomination meeting, which was scheduled for 16th September.
Seven members of the branch committee attended the meeting, and only one nomination (for Paul Holmes) was made. A vote was then held on whether our branch would nominate Paul Holmes as a candidate, the results were as follows:
The nominations process is now closed, and the general ballot of UNISON members will now run from October 28th to November 27th, with the result being announced on January 11th.
‘This is not a single-generation job. It’s humanity’s job….Let’s all join together, with your neighbours, co-workers, friends, family and go out on to the streets to make your voices heard and make this a turning point in our history’ – Greta Thunberg and 46 youth activists from the International movement.
On 20th September young people across the globe not only continued their monthly strike action (inspired by the environmental activist Greta Thunberg), but called on all workers, trade unionists, community groups and adults to join them as part of a massive global day of action. Millions of people from Sydney to Manila, Dhaka to London and New York marched for urgent action by world leaders on climate breakdown. This just 3 days before the UN emergency climate summit.
Five thousand joined the students here in Sheffield, with the branch joining the march through Sheffield along Arundel Gate to the City Hall. There were speakers from Sheffield Trades Council, Sheffield Climate Alliance, Sheffield Stand Up to racism, but it was the voices of the young and future workers that dominated the rally and inspired many to join them in their stand against the inertia of those in power, demanding a climate emergency an calling for action to be taken now.
Sheffield Hallam University Branch sent the following message of support to those young people who took to the streets:
“Sheffield Hallam University UNISON Branch sends solidarity to all the young people around the world striking today. Above all else you have shown great strength in creating a wave of urgency and resistance that has shown the way in the struggle against this climate crisis. It is time for all trade unionists, workers and everyone on this planet to join you in calling ‘time out’ to all those in power who continue to ignore you. Together, we can build a better world.”
We will be sending out more information as to future activities from our branch around the climate emergency. If you are interested in getting involved please contact Lucinda Wakefield at firstname.lastname@example.org
Article published in Sheffield Telegraph
The Sheffield Telegraph recently published an article about the number of support staff leaving the University following the implementation of the Professional Service Operating Model for Student and Academic Services. As a major employer in the city, the loss of so many jobs at SHU is clearly significant.
The article prominently carried a quote on the situation from Branch Secretary Dan Bye, referring to the overwhelming support for UNISON’s motion of no-confidence in the implementation process, a motion we believe has been vindicated by events since the new year.
UCU has announced that members working in higher education have voted in favour of strike action in UK universities in a row over pay.
Almost two thirds (65.4%) of members who voted backed strike action and over three quarters (77.3%) voted for action short of a strike.
This week the Trade Union Bill went back to the House of Commons. We didn’t manage to defeat the entire bill, but we did manage to remove several elements of it that would have irrevocably damaged the trade union movement.
Responding to the announcement of the Hillsborough inquest verdict, UNISON General Secretary Dave Prentis said:
“After 27 years of lies and cover-ups, the families of the 96 finally have justice. This has been a struggle that united a city and then a nation behind the battle for truth and accountability.
“For too long, smears in the media and by the authorities meant that justice was denied. UNISON has been proud to stand with the families and the campaign from the outset. We shared their desire for justice because many of our members saw what really happened on that terrible afternoon.
“This has always been a cause that is close to my heart. Like so many people, I will be thinking of friends and family today, and those who were taken from us all those years ago.”
Can your members afford to lose up to £50 a week?
If they qualify, low-paid workers need to claim in-work tax credits before universal credit arrives in their area.
Across the country, a million people in low-paid jobs have yet to apply for tax credits. This will include low-income UNISON members. But they need to hurry up and apply before it’s too late and universal credit arrives in their area.
If people don’t claim tax credits by the time the full universal credit service arrives in their town or city, they could end up much worse off. This is because, while chancellor George Osborne backed down over cuts to tax credits in his Budget last July, cuts to universal credit work allowances remain and came in this week.
If members leave it until universal credit comes in to claim support they’re entitled to, they will lose out. But if they claim tax credits before, this will be protected.
So UNISON, in partnership with benefit experts Entitledto, has launched an online calculator as part of a campaign to encourage people to take up the benefits they are due. Members can find it at unison-takeup.entitledto.co.uk.
Use the UNISON/Entitledto tax credit (take up) calculator
UNISON’s higher education service group executive has decided to accept the employer’s pay offer, after 72% of members voted to back it read more