Joint Union Committee Letter to the new VC

Dear Professor Mossop,

As representatives for the trade unions UCU, UNISON and Unite at Sheffield Hallam we would like to take this opportunity to welcome you to your new role. Our staff work hard to deliver quality teaching, which benefits from our economy boosting research and exceptional support for students, resulting in an excellent student experience. The recent award of TEF Gold is a reflection of the dedication of all here at Sheffield Hallam.

You are no doubt aware that despite this, pay and conditions have steadily declined for those very same staff. We have seen a real-term drop in pay of approximately 30% since 2009. In previous restructures we have seen significant erosion of terms and conditions and recently, we have been asked to consider the removal of and the reduction of pay protection and the removal of additional redeployment support. We also feel the commitment to the elimination of casualisation and outsourcing needs to be reaffirmed in the current climate. Given all these factors we are sure you can see that there is no room for further cuts here, and that priority should be given to addressing this spiral of decline in order to retain and grow a body of staff that has made Sheffield Hallam an award winning institution.

You are inheriting a difficult budget position, brought about by the prioritisation of capital expenditure projects over investment in staff. We have grave concerns about the project for a London campus, how it contributes to that budget deficit and the risks it entails. We need assurances that this project will not further damage the University’s financial status and also that any staff employed on this project, and any future similar projects, will be employed under the same terms and conditions as those already working for Sheffield Hallam. There are further questions around how this move to London aligns with the University’s civic agenda, implicit in which is a need to recommit to this region (

Our partnership with the University is the key to a successful and thriving institution. We would like to take this opportunity to rebuild and strengthen this partnership. Among the proposals we have is for regular attendance by our new VC and University Executive Board members at our Joint Negotiating Committee meetings, facilitating a more expansive, direct dialogue between the unions as staff representatives and the leadership of Sheffield Hallam. This would form the basis of a more open and transparent approach from the University, with our deeper involvement from an earlier stage in major projects that the University is planning and the provision of full information, including budget forecasts, to allow us to understand and be involved in major decisions around staff costs and other issues that impact our members.

All of these proposals have one aim: to ensure that Sheffield Hallam builds on the work of its staff as a centre of excellence, that it values their contribution and that it listens to and incorporates in its planning the expertise our members bring from doing the work that makes this University an award winning institution and a key civic partner contributing to the Region.

We hope that you will join us at a special Joint Negotiating Committee meeting to discuss the points raised in our letter. We look forward to working with you.

Ben Abell, Branch Secretary, Sheffield Hallam UCU

Dan Bye, Branch Secretary, Sheffield Hallam UNISON

Stephen Magowan, Branch Secretary, Sheffield Hallam Unite