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.
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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 clarice.head@quilter.
Retirement and Pensions Explained Webinar
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.
Formal dispute lodged with higher education employers
After a clear majority of HE members reject the final pay offer, UNISON wants to bring employers back to the negotiating table . Read more
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): https://forms.gle/
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
University of Sheffield branch committee
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.
– 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.
UNISON University of Sheffield Branch Committee
Members Meeting: Thursday 14th January, 1pm
We hope you are all keeping well in these challenging times, and managed to have a nice break over the festive period.
Before Christmas, we wrote to you to invite you to our next meeting on the 0% Pay Offer following UNISON’s consultation. We are still going to provide an update on the Pay Consultation and welcome contributions and thoughts from members.
However, in light of the events of the past couple of weeks and the new national lockdown announcement, we think it is also important to allow members the space and time to discuss this too. The lockdown will bring new challenges and may see previous issues return so it’s important that we are all able to share our concerns about the workplace and more generally. Some of us may have found our workload or working environment has changed, whilst the continuation of existing arrangements for others may bring its own problems.
UNISON stewards from across the University will be at the meeting to answer any questions you may have and address any concerns, so please do join us.
If you have any thoughts, questions or concerns and are not able to attend or do not wish to raise them in a meeting, please feel free to contact the branch on firstname.lastname@example.org and this will be picked up by a steward.
University of Sheffield UNISON Branch Committee