You should have received an email from Jon Richards, UNISON’s Head of Education in the last week or so, urging that you use your vote in the ongoing pay consultation.   You may also have received a reminder.

The email includes a link to allow you to vote.  In the past we have conducted these consultative ballots locally, but they are now being run from National HQ.

If you are an eligible member but have lost your voting email or didn’t receive one, you can use this voting link instead (membership number required):

Vote now

Please do use your vote.    You can vote until 1st July.

The pay offer affects you, and your vote helps determine UNISON’s response.   UNISON is urging members to REJECT the offer, and will decide whether to proceed to a full ballot for industrial action based on the results of this consultative ballot.

UNISON’s pay claim, submitted jointly with the other Higher Education unions, was for a rise of inflation (using the RPI measure), plus 3% (or a minimum of  £3,349).     The claim also asked for a £10 an hour minimum rate of pay, for all Universities to become accredited Living Wage employers, a 35 hour working week, action to close gender and ethnicity pay gaps, and action on excessive workloads and stress.

The employers offered a rise of 1.8%, with an offer of between 1.82% and 3.65% for the lowest paid.

Check what it would mean for you here:  final pay offer.

Use UNISON’s pay calculator below to see how much pay you’ve lost over the last ten years:https://www.unison.org.uk/at-work/education-services/about/higher-education/pay-now-higher-education.


University employers improve offer at latest pay talks.

Unions representing workers across the UK higher education sector met employers for the second round of pay talks, and received an improved offer over that made at the first meeting on 26 March.

UNISON head of education Jon Richards (above) said: “While the employers made an increase to their opening offer, this still falls far short of the fair claim made by unions.

“As negotiations continue, the unions will push for an improved deal at the next meeting later this month.”

In March, the university employers said they had “an initial envelope for discussion of 1.3% across all the elements of the pay claim”

This week, they increased that ‘envelope’ to 1.5% and spoke of a 2.5% pay rise for the lowest paid staff.

 The unions and employers are due to meet again on 7 May.




Collegiate Campus AGM

Tuesday 5 March 2019

HC0.32 – 12-1pm AGM Business followed by a Networking Buffet Lunch 1-2pm


City Campus AGM

Wednesday 6 March 2019

Owen 1025 12-1pm AGM Business

Owen 1031 1-2pm Networking Buffet Lunch





This is your chance to become a Steward and make a difference.

Workplace stewards are at the heart of our union. They are the first point of contact for our members in your local workplace, and they work to make your workplace a fairer and better place to work.

And we need more! We have vacancies in lots of areas at Sheffield Hallam. As new ways of working are rolled out across all professional services in the University, we need stewards in as many areas as possible.


  • Participating in a range of activities including organising, recruiting and representing UNISON members.
  • Being involved in how the Sheffield Hallam University UNISON branch is run.
  • Being the first and main point of contact for members in your constituency.
  • Supporting and advising members on workplace issues, both individual and collective.
  • Acting as a spokesperson for the members in your constituency and informing and involving members in branch activities.
  • You will receive facilities time in order to carry out your role – Facility time

You will receive training and support from UNISON in order to carry out your role.

“But I don’t have the skills!”

Ever thought of becoming a steward but you’re worried you don’t have the right skill or the time? Don’t worry – you receive excellent training, plus paid time off work for your union duties.

Here are six common worries you may have about becoming a steward – and how you can overcome them.

I don’t do public speaking……but I do raise issues I am concerned about in team meetings at work.

I don’t do negotiation……but I did complain when my gas bill got too high, and I did sort out a better deal with the company.

I don’t do campaigning……but I did support my local library when it was threatened with closure.

I don’t do recruitment……but I do get my neighbours to support the local school

I don’t organise meetings……but I do organise outings and holidays with my friends and family

I don’t do representation……but I did go to the doctors with my partner to make sure they got their views across.

Sound like you? Your colleagues need you!  Shop Steward Nomination Form 2019

List of Constituencies


Branch Secretary

The Branch Secretary (rule G4.2), is responsible for ensuring the proper completion of the following tasks. It is not expected that, especially in larger branches, the Branch Secretary will personally undertake all these functions but will act as the strategic lead officer and co-ordinator within the branch. The secretary will encourage partnership working within the branch committee and the development of new representatives, will be the manager of branch staff and will manage the delegation of work to other branch officers and branch staff as appropriate, whilst providing support and guidance.


Tasks relating to the office of Branch Chairperson:-

  • to preside at all meetings of the branch and branch committee
  • to agree the agenda for meetings with the secretary
  • to ensure that business is properly conducted
  • to advise the branch officers and branch committee in respect of matters relating to procedure and interpretation of rules
  • to ensure that all functions of the branch are carried outto work closely with the secretary to provide leadership to the branch.

Vice Chair

  • To deputise for the Branch Chair.
  • To carry out functions related to Branch elections as set out in the Branch Rules.


Tasks relating to the office of Branch Treasurer:-

  •  to conduct the branch’s financial business
  • to keep accounts in accordance with the rules
  • to provide reports on the financial position of the branch committee
  • to provide a detailed financial report for the annual branch meeting(s)
  • to advise the branch officers and branch committee in respect of matters relating to financial management and appropriate expenditure
  • to provide an audited annual return of branch income.

Education  Officer

Tasks relating to the post of Branch Education Officer:-

  • To make sure all new stewards and safety representatives receive initial information and guidance about their duties, e.g. stewards handbook, rulebook, service conditions agreements, etc
  • To publicise the range of educational and training opportunities available to members and activists
  • To get untrained stewards, safety representatives and other branch officers onto appropriate training courses
  • To co-ordinate and support the work of learning representatives to encourage branch members and activists to make use of the UNISON courses
  • To maintain contact with the regional education officer/regional learning and organising committee
  • To establish a plan of training for activists and to produce an annual budget to meet its costs
  • To keep records of what training has been undertaken and by whom within the branch
  • To make sure that activists get paid time off for training where appropriate.

Equality Officer

All UNISON representatives should promote equality and challenge discrimination in their union role. Equality Officer, whilst not expected to be an expert on all equality matters, lead and co-ordinate the branch’s equality work.  The Equality Officer is not a representative of self-organised groups but is elected by the members at the Annual General Meeting.  They are however expected to work with representatives of self-organised groups, with equality representatives and all activists.  They support the training and development of other union representatives and monitor progress.  Branch Equality Officer should share good practice where there are multiple workplace representatives within branches.

Branches can elect equality representatives for each of their work groups. The role of the equality rep is to promote equality and challenge discrimination in their local area, keeping the Branch Equality Officer updated on developments.

Health and Safety Officer

Tasks relating to the post of Health and Safety Officer:-

  • to increase the awareness of members, health and safety representatives and branch officers of health and safety issues
  • to organise the information held by the branch on health and safety
  • to co-ordinate the activity of health and safety representatives and to organise regular meetings of health and safety representatives to exchange information and consider priorities
  • to be closely involved in all negotiations with the employer on matters related to health and safety
  • to advise the branch committee on health and safety issues arising in the branch and to recommend policies and priorities
  • to act as a link between the health and safety representatives and other branch representatives to ensure that health and safety issues are treated as an integral part of the work of the branch

Communications Officer

Tasks relating to the post of Branch Communications Officer:-

  • to explain UNISON’s policies and to provide the information members need to play an active role in their union
  • to assist with efforts to recruit new members
  • to help support UNISON’s national and regional campaigns
  • to help create a positive image for the branch among members, potential members and the public
  • to produce news-sheets or bulletins for distribution to branch members
  • to lead on the development of electronic communication with members – email, web, etc
  • to ensure branch communications are in the accessible formats members need – audit for any particular requirements such as large print/Braille etc
  • to ensure that nationally and regionally produced publicity and campaign materials are distributed, as appropriate, to stewards and onward to members and non-members
  • to monitor local media for stories which affect the branch and take appropriate action

To help ensure that the branch makes effective contact with the media whenever necessary by:

  • creating and maintaining lists of media and contacts
  • writing press releases
  • ensuring that appropriate individuals within the branch are available for comments, interviews etc
  • writing ‘letters to the editor’.

Membership Officer

Tasks relating to the post of Membership Officer:-

  • to map the branch’s membership in order to identify membership density and steward coverage
  • to monitor the branch’s recruitment, and also leavers rate
  • to work with the branch committee to develop and implement its organisation and development plan
  • to make recommendations to the branch committee on recruitment activities, targets, resources, budgets, etc.

International Officer

Tasks relating to the post of International Officer:-

  • to co-ordinate the branch’s work on international relations
  • to ensure that branch members are informed of national policy on international matters
  • to receive and distribute relevant information
  • to encourage members to be aware of the importance of international solidarity issues within the context of the overall work by the union
  • to liaise where appropriate with regional international structures and to ensure that the views of the branch on international activities are reported appropriately
  • to liaise with other branch officers concerning publicity and education on international issues
  • to liaise with the solidarity organisations and campaigns that UNISON is affiliated to
  • to encourage members of the branch to take action and participate in international solidarity activities organised nationally or regionally
  • to ensure that information on branch activity is shared at regional and national level
  • to seek to develop an international perspective among members, stewards and branch officers.

Young Members’ Officer

The role of the Branch Young Members’ Officer is ideal for someone who is interested in becoming more active in the union. The post may be a stepping stone to becoming a steward or taking on wider roles.

Branch Young Members’ Officer must be under 27 years of age for the whole of their term of office and be nominated by young members.

Labour Link Officer

The Labour Link Officer is elected and accountable to the Labour Link section within the branch and must be an individual member of the Labour Party – this is because the post holder should work to take UNISON policy forward in the party, often being a delegate to the general committee of the party and encouraging joint work and campaigning with the local constituency Labour Party (CLP).

The branch UNISON Labour Link Officer is the key contact point for information about regional and national UNISON Labour Link matters and is responsible for co-ordinating our activities in the branch. They also represent the interests of Labour Link levy payers on the UNISON branch committee. The Labour Link Officer must be nominated by members paying into the Affiliated Political Fund.

The Labour Link officer will receive support, training and advice on their role and responsibilities from their regional political officer.

Welfare Officer

Tasks relating to the post of Branch Welfare Officer:-

  • to ensure that branch officers, stewards and workplace representatives, and also employers, have regular up-to-date information about UNISON “There For You” and its range of services
  • to ensure that members seeking welfare assistance receive a prompt, supportive and effective response
  • to liaise and co-ordinate with regional and national levels to ensure that UNISON support is provided effectively
  • to undertake training and seek advice from UNISON “There For You” where necessary
  • to develop and implement local activity
  • to develop links with local charities and sources of support such as Citizen’s Advice Bureau and women’s refuges.

Officer Nomination Form 2019

2018 elected post holders were:

Branch Secretary                                                                           Dan J. Bye

Vice-Chair                                                                                       Ian Chesters

Treasurer                                                                                        Tracey Holland

 International Officer                                                                      Lucinda Wakefield

 Health & Safety Officer                                                                 William Tierney

 Communications Officer                                                              Katie Drajling

 Welfare Officer                                                                              Tongriang Lohor





Tracey Holland, who has been our Branch Treasurer for several years, will be stepping down at the AGM in March.  We will miss her.

The Branch urgently needs a member to succeed Tracey as Treasurer.

Experience is not necessary – training is provided, and there is support from UNISON HQ.    The Treasurer liaises closely with Joanne Ward, our Branch Administrator, who looks after our finances on a day-to-day basis and has a great deal of knowledge and experience.

The Treasurer would be able to take time off work for training, and there is agreed time to carry out Treasurer duties and attend Branch meetings, but the workload is not heavy.

The main responsibilities of Branch Treasurer are ensuring that accounts are produced, budgets prepared, and financial reports provided to Branch committees and the annual general meeting.   But much of this is automated.  We use electronic banking and our accounts are managed electronically, which means everything is straightforward and reporting is easy.  An outside company manages the payroll tasks associated with employing our Administrator.

Nor does the Treasurer need to get involved in individual casework or negotiations – although a Treasurer who was interested in doing so would be able to.

This is a great opportunity for a member who would like to become involved in the Branch.

If you are interested and would like to know more, please contact Dan Bye or Tracey Holland.

Candidates for Treasurer will then be elected by the AGM in March, so if you are interested you will need to complete and submit the officer nomination form by noon on 12th February.



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.





Be a workplace contact!

While the Branch encourages members to become active in the Branch as stewards (alternatively known as workplace representatives) and officers, representing members and helping to run the Union (and there are vacancies!), that’s not the only way to get involved.    

 From time to time we publicise free training events and conferences that members can attend, but there are also UNISON self-organised groups in which women, black members, disabled members, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender members, young members and retired members can get involved (see: https://www.unison.org.uk/about/our-organisation/structure/member-groups/).

 But UNISON also has a role for “workplace contacts”.  

 Workplace contacts can play an important role in helping members organise, by being the eyes and ears of the Branch in a particular team or area, helping communicate the Branch’s messages and sharing information with their colleagues and other members, promoting the Union and supporting and encouraging people who want to join UNISON.  Where members need representation or advice, a workplace contact can refer them to the best source of help.   Unlike officers and stewards, workplace contacts are not elected.

 It’s a good way of getting to know UNISON (and the University) a bit better, and could be a starting point for someone thinking of getting more involved with the Union.    Either way, being a workplace contact could be a great learning opportunity.

 If you are interested in becoming a workplace contact, please let the Branch Secretary, Dan Bye, know.  Alternatively, speak to your local steward or another officer.

Student Loans: are you paying back the right amount?

Members who are paying back a student loan should check that the correct amounts are being deducted.  

 There is no indication that this is a widespread or systematic problem, but the possibility of error exists and could have significant financial consequences.   We have had some examples over the last year of members who have became aware that they were overpaying on their student loan, and so we thought it was useful to raise awareness of the issue.

 Refunds can be made where mistakes are made, but note that issues need raising with the Student Loan Company.   The University payroll team is instructed by HMRC (who get their information from SLC) of any changes to student loan repayment plans, and are not otherwise able to make any changes.

 First of all, check that you are liable to make repayments. There are tens of thousands of people who are known to have started repaying too early. Liability only starts in the April after you graduate or leave higher education. And you don’t need to repay unless your earnings have reached the necessary threshold in any tax year.   The current threshold for those who started University during or after 2012 (England/Wales) is £25,000.  It’s different in Scotland and Northern Ireland.   

 Secondly, check that repayments have been stopped or started as appropriate if your earnings dropped below the threshold in a month – although the earnings threshold is for a tax year, the calculation will be on a monthly basis.

 Thirdly, check that you are not still paying despite having paid off your loan.   Again, tens of thousands of people have ended up overpaying because of the way in which HMRC annually report earnings to the Student Loans Company – eventually this should be detected and notified to the affected individual, but let them know if you spot it yourself.

 Finally, check that you are paying according the correct repayment plan.  Plan 1 is for those who took out their loan before 1 September 2012.  Plan 2 is for those who took out their loan on or after that date.   Repayment rates are calculated differently for each plan, which is why it matters.

 If you want more information or need to check any details, see the Student Loans Company website:  http://www.studentloanrepayment.co.uk

 If you have overpaid and want to be refunded, call the Student Loan Company on 0300 100 0611.  You might need personal data such as national insurance number, payroll number and PAYE reference.

 Example of newspaper coverage of student loan overpayment, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/money/student-money/hmrc-blames-student-loans-company-mass-overpayments/

Dan J Bye