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Industrial Action Information

Wednesday 27 May 2020

Update on the local UCU dispute at Hallam 

A number of meetings have been held during the past few months in relation to the local UCU dispute about workload planning. The University has been working with UCU to reach an agreed way forward and it has been clear throughout that both parties are committed to finding a resolution to the local dispute as soon as we can. 
 
We have moved significantly to address all of UCU’s concerns over the last few months and made an updated offer to UCU relating to academic staff workload planning. Following constructive and positive negotiations, the UCU Branch has agreed that strike action relating to the local dispute on work planning should be suspended. UCU also agreed to take the offer to a ballot of their membership which, if passed, would result in the conclusion of the local dispute. 

With regards to the national dispute, the Universities and Colleges Employers Association (UCEA) represents higher education institutions, including Sheffield Hallam University, in national pay negotiations. They have proposed joint work on the non-pay elements of the trade union claim and talks are described as constructive and progress is being made. More information can be found on the UCEA website. 

In respect of pay, Sheffield Hallam is one of 147 universities who are part of a collective bargaining agreement. Along with other universities, we implemented a pay award for 2019/20, which is the subject of this continuing dispute, in September 2019. We remain committed to the principle of national collective bargaining.

In respect of casual employment, the University makes use of a range of contracts.  Associate Lecturers employed by the University are on indefinite contracts. We undertake a biennial review which enables existing Associate Lecturers who meet a number of published criteria to request transfer to a substantive academic contract.

In respect of pay gaps, the University is committed to addressing both gender and ethnicity gaps and has published plans to realise its commitments. The median gender pay gap for academic staff is 1.6%. The gender pay gap across the whole institution is larger and explains our recent focus on addressing issues in relation to our lowest paid support grades, as well as extending the Living Wage Foundation hourly rate to all employees, including casual workers.

How will assessments be affected?

You should assume that any assessment deadlines already set will remain in place. You will be informed in good time if there are any deadline changes.

We will ensure that you are not disadvantaged in any assessment activity. Hand-in dates and deadlines may be extended if these are affected by any cancelled teaching.

We will make every effort to ensure that feedback is returned as normal. However, it is possible that some feedback may be subject to a delay. We will do our best to keep you informed if this is the case.

What is the strike action about?

The UCU are taking strike action in a national dispute about pay, pensions and workload management. At Sheffield Hallam University the UCU national action is specifically over salaries, the gender and ethnic pay gap, workloads, and some employment practices.

In addition, at Sheffield Hallam University, UCU locally voted in support of strike action in relation to a dispute over contractual matters of workload and the academic workload planning model.

Contacts 

We want to help you access information in as many ways possible. You can:  

  • Check this webpage via MyHallam for the latest information and FAQs   
  • Speak to your my Lecturer / Academic Adviser / Supervisor or other staff 

Further Information

We have drafted some FAQs (see below) to help answer any queries that you might have, and we will revise and update these accordingly.

If you have questions or concerns you should continue to use your normal channels to academic staff and other services.  If you are feeling anxious as a result of this strike action you can take advantage of the University’s Student Support Services who can offer wellbeing and other support. You can also contact the Advice Centre at Hallam Students' Union. 

If you are dissatisfied with the arrangements put in place by the University in relation to the industrial action, you can raise a formal complaint. The University’s Student Complaints Policy and Procedure and formal complaint form (SC1 form) can be found on MyHallam, on the Rules and Regulations page.

Frequently asked questions

Background

  • What is the strike about?

    Sheffield Hallam University is among a number of universities nationally where members of the Universities and Colleges Union (UCU) voted in support of strike action and action short of a strike. At Sheffield Hallam University the UCU national action is specifically over salaries, the gender and ethnic pay gap, workloads, and some employment practices.  There was an initial period of industrial action over eight working days in December 2019, and UCU has announced a further series of strikes of 14 days over a four week period commencing 20 February 2020.

    In addition, at Sheffield Hallam University, UCU locally voted in support of strike action in relation to a dispute over contractual matters of workload and the academic workload planning model. This action coincided with the national strike action and was undertaken during the same eight day period in December 2019. Action in relation to the local dispute will also be undertaken during the forthcoming period of industrial action. 

  • What is being done to resolve the dispute?

    At national level, the Universities and Colleges Employers Association (UCEA), which represents higher education institutions in national pay negotiations, has in January 2020 made an offer of further proposals to UCU on the non-pay elements of the trade union claim. For up to date information and useful facts and figures regarding the national dispute please look at the UCEA website.

    Sheffield Hallam University is already working jointly with the UCU branch on issues relating to the use of casual and fixed term employment, and the gender pay gap and equality.

    In respect of pay, Sheffield Hallam is one of 147 universities who are part of a collective bargaining agreement. Along with other universities, we implemented a pay award for 2019/20, which is the subject of this continuing dispute, in September 2019. We remain committed to the principle of national collective bargaining.

    In respect of casual employment, the University makes use of a range of contracts. Associate Lecturers employed by the University are on indefinite contracts. We undertake a biennial review which enables existing Associate Lecturers who meet a number of published criteria to request transfer to a substantive academic contract.

    In respect of pay gaps, the University is committed to addressing both gender and ethnicity gaps and has published plans to realise its commitments. The median gender pay gap for academic staff is 1.6%. The gender pay gap across the whole institution is larger and explains our recent focus on addressing issues in relation to our lowest paid support grades, as well as extending the Living Wage Foundation hourly rate to all employees, including casual workers.
    In relation to the local UCU dispute, a number of meetings have been held during the past few months in relation to the local UCU dispute about workload planning. The University has been working with UCU to reach an agreed way forward and it has been clear throughout that both parties are committed to finding a resolution to the local dispute as soon as we can.

    We have moved significantly to address all of UCU’s concerns over the last few months and made an updated offer to UCU relating to academic staff workload planning. Following constructive and positive negotiations, the UCU Branch has agreed that strike action relating to the local dispute on work planning should be suspended. UCU also agreed to take the offer to a ballot of their membership which, if passed, would result in the conclusion of the local dispute.


    We are also working with our academic staff to simplify and improve our systems and processes to reduce academic workloads. We have listened hard to the concerns raised by our academic colleagues. We believe that the changes we are implementing provide the basis for a fair approach to work planning and embed effective ways of working. We will continue to work to address staff concerns and to bring the dispute to resolution as soon as possible.


Effect on studies


What support services are available?

Libraries

Adsetts and Collegiate libraries will remain open 24/7 and can be used for independent study if you find lectures or workshops cancelled as a result of the strike.

Student Support Services

Student Support Advisers (SSAs) can help and offer advice if you feel your ability to study is affected. You can talk to them about what other specialist services you can access across the university. The services are all confidential and non-judgemental. If you need help, you can go to any Hallam Help Point or book to see your SSA on UniHub.

Student Wellbeing

If you are feeling anxious or concerned about the strikes and their impact on you and your study, Student Wellbeing can help. They provide information and advice to support you and help you manage your studies.

Chaplaincy

The Multifaith Chaplaincy team is drawn from a wide range of religious traditions. They can provide spiritual and pastoral care, religious advice and guidance, whatever your religious affiliation.

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