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UCU staff strikes explained: A statement by Sheffield Solidarity Group

This is a statement from Sheffield Solidarity Group

Further staff strikes will be taking place between Monday 28 March and Friday 1 April.

You should by now have received emails from the University about staff striking. However, what was missed out is why staff are striking and how you can help end the strike.

So first off, why are lecturers striking?

It's about changes to their pay and working conditions. University management are treating staff unfairly, and making it harder for them to deliver quality teaching.

There are four key issues that they're striking over: casualisation, pay, equality and workloads.

At Hallam, the University has been employing greater numbers of staff on short-term contracts, rather than permanent roles. This means less security and often lower pay. This is known as casualisation, and it's making it harder for postgraduates to find a decent job.

Meanwhile, all staff have been offered a pay rise of 1.5% - which is way below inflation (7.5% RPI in December 2021). This means a real terms pay-cut for staff who have seen pay reduced due to inflation year after year.

There are also big problems with pay gaps too. For example, the pay gap between white males and women of colour at SHU is a shocking 31.7%.

Finally, lecturers' workloads have been getting bigger. This is an issue that affects students as much as lecturers, as stressed teaching staff aren't able to deliver the quality teaching they'd like to.

And it's not like the University is lacking money either. In 2020-21, the University reported a surplus of £13 million, and it had the money to pay Vice Chancellor Chris Husbands a salary of £252,000 in 2019.

For more information on this, please read the following article written by Sheffield Hallam student Zac Larkham.

Get involved in supporting the strike

At the SU we have adopted a policy to support striking staff and would hope the University will support the union's demands so we can all get back to teaching and learning.

The more support staff have from students the quicker this is resolved so here are ways you can support staff taking action:

  • Show up on the picket lines! Outside each building there will be small numbers of staff demonstrating; go and stand with them, talk with them, offer them some biscuits. Any support from students means the world to them and shows the University whose side you are on.
  • Email the Vice-Chancellor. If you are annoyed and frustrated then direct your complaints to our Vice-Chancellor, Chris Husbands at You can copy and paste this template letter. If he sees lots of students are angry with him for staff having to strike, he will feel pressure to help end the strike as early as possible.
  • If you are able to and feel comfortable doing so, don't go into university. The more disruptive strikes are, the more effective they are and students refusing to turn up to university shows the University that you support your staff and want to see them win so we can all have a better university experience. Don't cross the picket lines but also be respectful of international students and disabled students who cannot support the strike in the same way.
  • Sheffield Solidarity Group will be coordinating other actions such as banner drops and protests so if you would like to get involved then send them a message on Twitter or Instagram @shefsolgroup.

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