Branch Motions 2023

Motions voted on and passed at Branch Committee meetings:

Stop the War: in support of @The World At War – A Trade Union Issue’ Conference 

Donate to the STUC solidary fund

Donation for coaches to Rotherham

STUC climate action meeting 

CSC motion

Lift the ban  motion

Workers Summit model motion

AV equipment fund motion

Stop Planned Visa Fee Increases motion

Ceasefire in Gaza, in solidarity with Palestinians 

Visa Fee Increases: the impact on staff and students at SHU

On the 13th of July, the government proposed a range of hikes to visa fees and surcharges as a way to fund public sector pay rises. While everyone can agree that the public sector needs pay rises, the planned increases to migrant fees are a political choice to pit workers against each other.

The IPPR spelled out several progressive tax options available to the government to fund public sector pay rises without impacting inflation that do not involve robbing one group to pay another. Moreover, many migrants are public sector workers themselves, who should not have to pay higher visa fees to support their own pay increase.

On the 6th of September, SHU UNISON passed a motion ‘Stop Planned Visa Fee Increases’ which called upon Unison Higher Education to urge the government to abandon these plans to raise the fees. However, the situation is changing rapidly.

On the 15th of September, the House of Commons published a research briefing which explains that visas and related fees have risen significantly above inflation and above processing costs. Then, on the 18th of September, the Home Office officially announced 15-35% rises to visa fees, which will take effect on the 4th of October. They also announced a 66% rise to the Immigration Health Surcharge (a fee which migrants pay upfront for each year of their visa to fund the NHS in addition to their taxes), which is meant to take place later this year.

How this will affect students and staff at SHU

Firstly, any migrant staff or students will be directly affected by the cost of their visa renewals. Depending on their visa, this is likely to be an increase between £1,000 and £2,000 depending on the route. For example, a two-year graduate route which costs the Home Office £103 to administer, will go from £1,963 to £2,894; three-year skilled worker visas which cost the Home Office £151 will go from £2,591 to £3,932. These unexpected rises during a cost of living crisis will be felt by migrants and families, and are likely to force those with fast approaching visa renewals to make some hard decisions about their finances.

There are implications for university finances which have potential knock-on effects for all university staff and students, as International Student Fees are projected to make up 25% of HE provider total income. As fees become prohibitive to potential students, university budgets may need to tighten accordingly. Additionally, there has been a 19% increase in the cost to the university to sponsor international students and certificates of sponsorship for skilled workers have gone up by 20%, which will have a direct and immediate impact on university budgets and forecasts.

Even where the university does not pay these costs directly, there are concerns from the research and development sector that the fees will actually level down the UK and have a detrimental effect on the HE sector. Sheffield specifically is one of the cities which benefits the most from international students. According to HEPI, International students have boosted the UK economy by £41.9 billion, and have provided a net figure of £1,930 per resident in Sheffield Central alone in 2021/2022.

So, what can we do about it?

The Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) fee increase of 66% which makes up the bulk of a migrant’s visa cost has not yet been agreed by the House of Commons or the House of Lords. Write to your MP and urge them to lobby to have this voted down.

Additionally, the 10-year route to settlement disproportionately affects women and minorities. You can write to your MP to urge them to cap the routes to settlement at 5 years, to stop migrants from having to pay high fees on average every 2.5 years for ten years.

Sign this petition to stop the fee increases, and ask your network to do so as well. If it receives 100,000 signatures Parliament will have to debate it.

Hallam UNISON will be campaigning for this to be taken up by other branches and unions across higher education. If you want to know more or get involved, please get in contact with us.

Kayla Kemhadjian – Hallam UNISON member


Free Members Learning Courses

Please find below details of forthcoming courses for the beginning of October.  These courses are free to UNISON members to attend. 

How to be a good Trans Ally on 3 October at 10am – 12.45pm via Teams

CVs and Application Forms on 5 October at 6.30pm – 7.30pm via Teams

Confidence Building (bitesize) on 12 October at 1pm – 2pm via Teams 

Makaton: Baby and Young Children Signing on 13 October 10am – 11.30am via Zoom

For more details about the above courses and others please follow the link below:

In-Person courses – at our office in Leeds

Dyslexia Awareness on 10 October at 10am – 4pm

For further details about this course and how to apply, please click the link:

To book your place on the online courses please email the team at with your name, membership number (if you have to hand) and your email address.

We look forward to hearing from you.

Introducing…Environmental Officer

What is your role in the branch?

Hello, I’m Tom Kistell and I’m the Environmental Officer, also known as the Green Rep.  My role is to be the Committee member responsible for everything to do with environmental sustainability, hearing what people have to say about it, matching up members with training and networking opportunities, and leading on UNISON’s efforts locally to help Sheffield Hallam become a more sustainable organisation.


How and why did you become involved in UNISON?

I’ve been involved with the union for more than half my life by this point!  I first joined when I was still at school, while I was working in a sports centre run by my local council.  One of the longstanding UNISON stewards there spoke about the need for all workers to be trade union members, even “young pups”, and his words stuck with me.  I joined in each place where I worked after that and, by the time I came to Sheffield Hallam, I wanted to contribute more as an activist.  I’ve been a steward, a workplace contact, and now an officer here.

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

Obviously, I’m going to say climate action because it’s a theme that relates to everything else.  I can’t say enough about that in a few words here, but I’m always happy to talk about it with anyone who’s interested.  Other headline issues for me are work intensification, staff wellbeing, real-terms pay cuts, issues faced by parents and carers, and the barriers that people from poorer backgrounds encounter at work.  We need to recruit more of our colleagues as members, too.  If there are UNISON members in every team, then we’re in a much better position to push for positive change in the University and beyond.

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


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.”