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UoS FAQs- Pay Ballot


Our Higher Education Pay Offer strike ballot has gone out to all members. Here are some frequently asked questions and responses.

There’s a cost of living crisis affecting everyone, isn’t this a bad time to demand more pay and go on strike?

Not at all, there’s never been a better time to demand more pay.

The cost of living increase is impacting workers across the country, this is why it’s important to use our power as union members to take action, including withdrawal of our labour, where necessary. 

Along with staff in lots of other sectors, Higher Education staff have had real terms pay cuts continuously since 2009 – it’s time to take a stand and tell our employers that we deserve better. You can find out how much you’ve lost since 2009 here.

I can’t afford to take strike action, is there any help for this?

Yes – UNISON have confirmed they will be paying strike pay of up to £50 per day (or lower, if your loss of pay is lower) to all members who need this.

Our branch also has an Industrial Action fund that can be paid to all staff who are suffering hardship as a result of strike deductions, this is up to £70 per day.

Details of how to apply will be confirmed, in plenty of time,  if we vote to go on strike. 

Haven’t the University of Sheffield already agreed to raise our wages with the Grade Boundary changes? Why are we balloting?

UNISON and the other campus Trade Unions raised issues around the Grade Boundaries with the University, who agreed to work through the negotiations, and we were pleased with the outcome of these discussions. 

Whilst the University was able to agree to, and implement changes to where our grades lie within the spine, the spine itself is negotiated nationally in the talks with UCEA and we cannot change this locally.

The National Pay offer is well below inflation level, without even considering that we have taken real terms pay cuts since 2009. Even combined with the Grade Boundary uplifts implemented locally, most staff will not have a pay increase close to the level of inflation.

Will taking strike action impact on the Grade Boundary changes?

No – The University will be implementing the grade boundary uplift regardless of whether we vote to strike or not. They and the Campus Trade Unions are very clear that these are two separate matters, the national pay offer is subject to a dispute whereas the local negotiations have concluded with an agreement.

I’m not a UNISON member, can I take part?

Only UNISON members can vote in the ballot, but please do join by 11st August 2022 to have your say, and the ballot papers will be posted to you when you join. 

When does the ballot close?

The ballot will close on Friday 26th August but we recommend posting yours back as soon as possible.

I’ve lost or not received my ballot paper, what can I do? 

Call the ballot hotline as soon as possible on  0800 0 857 857

They will verify your membership and arrange for a new ballot to be sent to you.

The hotline will open on 28 July 2022 and will close at 5pm on
18 August 2022.


4 unions logos

UNISON and the Campus Trade Unions are  in dispute with the University about the future of language provision,  and the future of the Department of Archaeology.   We have also raised concerns about governance processes.

Rob Hemus,  Branch Chair of UNISON,  and  Maureen Howard, as both UNISON Assistant Branch Secretary, and  JUCC Staffside Vice-Chair,  with support from UNISON Regional Official, Neelam Bhambra, are leading the dispute for UNISON,  alongside our sister Unions.

You may have heard that UCU and Unite,  have done  “indicative ballots”   of their members  –  indicative ballots have no legal standing in terms of members taking action.   Indicative ballots are often done to gauge the strength of feeling of members,  and can be a useful tool when discussing matters with management.   UNISON  have been advising our members of the matters and concerns in Archaeology and in SLC and language provisions, at members meetings, and in briefings,  and we have been taking your feedback,  and the feedback from our members in the affected departments.  UNISON has always ensured we have exhausted all other methods of consultation, negotiation, bargaining, persuasion –  and  that we have followed all the legally required internal processes,   before we ballot  –  whether indicative or formal ballot.

Depending on the outcome of the dispute,  we may need to do an indicative ballot to gain a mandate from our members,  about any action, including balloting for industrial action.   As it stands the dispute would need to be more focussed,  and meet with our terms of our recognition agreement of industrial relations, and other legal requirements,  for it to be deemed a ” legitimate trade dispute”   that we can have a formal ballot on.    So any formal ballot would need careful wording. It can get a bit complex and intricate meeting all the legalities,  but rest assured UNISON will follow proper process.

UNISON will be organising a meeting in August with members to discuss the outcomes of negotiations.  While we would like it if this was an update on agreeable outcomes of dispute, if this is sadly not the case,  it will be about how we as a branch and a membership collectively progress to any other options available.



Prior to the last members meeting, UNISON Branch stewards were already engaged in discussions about return to campus with management and the meeting timed well to enable input from all members present – those with concerns and those who feel okay about it.  Further meetings with management have taken your feedback to the highest levels of safety management and HR.

Our focus is those who are vulnerable – there will be some people unable to be vaccinated and there will be others who are returning but live with vulnerable people or are vulnerable themself.  Some people may suffer severe anxiety and a return may exacerbate this. For others a return poses no concerns at all and may be welcomed.The potential lifting of restrictions may have changed some staff views.

Our safety reps want you to know that having two jabs of the vaccine, whichever vaccine, is a good control measure.  Social distancing and face covers were the best way to deal with a situation where no-one was vaccinated.

However, we all knew getting everyone vaccinated, which greatly limits the person’s chances of catching covid let alone developing worse symptoms, could not have happened for everyone who works here by 19th July.  And for some not at all, at any point.   We pushed not to stop social distancing and face covers overnight, but for a phased withdrawal of those two control measures where other controls like vaccinations can replace them, combined with honest engagement with all staff returning, and a plan for those still vulnerable who cannot be vaccinated.

You’ll have seen from management guidance documents or university emails UNISON and the Campus Trade Unions were able to work with HR and safety teams on this.  We still are. Behind those emails and headlines are hours of work and many meetings.  As soon as we had worked through the implications for 19th July, we moved straight onto dialogue about return to teaching and new student intake with the implications for front line staff, teaching support, reception areas. We’re on site inspecting areas on campus.

Dialogue is ongoing so please monitor university comms and weekly emails.  And please contact our Unison branch office for any concerns.

Please note that the idea of return to campus and also hybrid working are two separate issues that just happen to coincide for timing of the pilot…Return to campus is always about safety and safe working environment.  Hybrid working is a separate process relating to a better way of working for us all, better options for us all.


Financial Wellbeing/Retirement and Pensions Webinars

Lighthouse Financial will be delivering webinars for UNISON members with information regarding Financial Wellbeing and Pensions and Retirement plus an opportunity to have a personal telephone appointment.  More details can be found below and on the attached.  If you are interested and want to attend any of these sessions please contact

Clarice Head on or call 01273 523714 to book your place.

Managing Your Financial Well-Being Webinar 

Lightouse Financial

Retirement and Pensions Explained Webinar

Lightouse Financial reitrement

Telephone Surgeries

Lightouse Financial telephone


School uniform

Help is at hand

We have set up a fund to help UNISON members on low incomes with school uniform costs by way of a one-off payment of £50 per child up to a maximum of £150 per family.

To apply, download the application form   School_grant_appform_2021_EDITABLE  or contact UNISON Direct on 0800 0 857 857 to request the application form be sent to you. Details of where to post it are on the form.

This is always a popular programme so please get your application in quickly. We have a limited fund and once it’s gone, it’s gone.

What would a pay rise mean to you?

Campus Trade Unions want to hear from you!

All staff have been working hard during the pandemic, keeping campus safe, supporting current students and recruiting more. Some of us have worked on Campus throughout the last year whilst others have worked from home in sometimes challenging work environments. All of us have adapted to changes in how we work and we continue to work effectively and flexibly as more staff and students begin their return to campus. Behind the scenes, we’ve steered the University through difficult times. 

Thanks to us, the University’s finances are stable, but where is our recognition?

Since 2009, our pay has declined by 17.6% when measured against RPI. The cost of living is rising, so why isn’t our pay?

Despite our hard work and the rising cost of living, University Vice Chancellors across the country refused to give their staff a pay rise this academic year (2020/21). 

We’d like to hear from you about your thoughts on this and what a pay rise would mean to you. Please complete our short survey and share with your colleagues (both union members and non-members): 

Negotiations are still ongoing for 2021/2022’s pay offer. Together, we can achieve the pay rise we deserve.


University of Sheffield UNISON branch committee

unite      University of Sheffield branch committee

ucuSheffield UCU branch committee


IMPORTANT – Have your say on your local UNISON branch – AGM Thursday 11th March, 1pm

Our Annual General Meeting (AGM) is coming up on Thursday 11th March, at 1pm and will take place on Google Meet.

Important  AGM papers have been emailed to members as they are needed for the meeting:  Branch report, Budget and year end accounts and the officers, stewards and workplace list. These documents will be taken as read as they need to be voted on.

What can I expect at the AGM and why should I attend?
At an AGM you will:
– Hear what UNISON is doing for you at the University of Sheffield
– Elect your branch officers and stewards
– Learn about how your membership fees are spent  locally and nationally
– Ask questions, make suggestions and have your say on the running of the branch

The AGM provides your chance to have a say in how UNISON’s University of Sheffield Branch is run – it is our democratic right as Trade Union members. If you have any suggestions on things the branch can do to improve or would like to know more about what we’re doing, then please come along and contribute. You’ll also get the opportunity to meet and chat to your stewards/reps.

It’s important for members to attend, as the branch can only make decisions if we meet a minimum required attendance, and we need this to enable the branch to run properly. Even if you don’t want to say anything, please do come along and vote so that you can still have your say.

Thursday 11 March     Time: 1–2pm AGM Business

Google Meet link has been emailed to members.

We look forward to seeing you there.

Best wishes
UNISON University of Sheffield Branch Committee