Petition from Sheffield SU to stall planned strike action reaches 500 signatures

Uni of Sheffield students want Keith Burnett to enter a fresh round of negotiations


A petition started by Sheffield Students' Union, which encourages the Vice-Chancellor, Keith Burnett, to lobby UUK (Universities UK) to enter into a fresh round of negotiations to prevent strike action, has gathered 500 signatures in just three days.

Overall, however, the consensus among students appears to be that the strikes are justified despite the potential impact on studies.

The University and College Union (UCU) which represents the majority of lecturers teaching at the University of Sheffield, as well as at 60 other universities across the country, has announced that its members will strike for 14 days spread across four weeks, starting on 22nd February.

The strikes have been planned due to talks between UCU and Universities UK (UUK), the body which employs university lecturers failing to reach a compromise over a dispute over pensions. UCU estimates that the typical lecturer will be around £10,000 worse off under the new pension scheme proposed by UUK.

Strike action on this scale has not been seen before and many students are concerned that it could affect their assessment results and some have e-mailed the Vice-Chancellor Sir Keith Burnett requesting a reimbursement for the tuition they will lose.

'Students should get rights like customers in businesses, including the right to money back when we don’t get what we pay for'

We spoke to one of these students, who preferred to remain anonymous, who said that “I support the strike because the changes are unfair but students are now treated as customers so we should get rights like customers in businesses, including the right to money back when we don’t get what we pay for.”

Support for the lecturers is echoed by many students, both from those who request compensation and those who don’t.

Another student who emailed the Vice-Chancellor told us: “I am not against the cause for the strikes and don't think it's wrong of the professors to strike, as it seems just to stand up for your rights as an employee. I just think that the University should try and negotiate as we pay for our education.”

And here's what lecturers have to say

Philosophy lecturer, Jennifer Saul, also added: "I've thought long and hard about this strike, as it's not something I would do lightly. For me, a key factor is that this isn't just about a loss in pension income. It's about the general principle of having a guaranteed income in retirement, rather than leaving support for the elderly up to the whims of the market.

"I think it's crucial for people to be able to count on the pension they have paid into being there for their retirement. And this isn't just about our pension scheme. The move to privatise our pensions is part of a broader programme of removing safety nets. If we let them get away with this, other pension schemes will follow. For all our sakes, it's vital to stand up for this issue."