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.