Sheffield Uni threatens striking staff with ‘100 per cent’ pay cut over cancelled lectures
Staff are not happy
University of Sheffield staff are in uproar after bosses threatened to strip them of their salary if they refuse to reorganise lectures and seminars lost to strikes.
The institution told all staff that "up to 100 per cent of pay" could be withheld if they do not minimise strike disruption, a move branded "disgusting".
Members of the University and Colleges Union at 60 universities nationwide are walking out for eight days from Monday over pay, pensions and working conditions.
The union has also urged staff to "work to contract" following the strike period, including not rescheduling missed teaching time, and not working out of hours, after talks with vice-chancellors' representative Universities UK broke down.
At Sheffield University alone, 800 staff are expected to strike all of next week, between 25 and 29 November, and for three days between 2 and 4 December. It could severely impact student deadlines and exam preparation.
In an email sent to all staff, Ian Wright, the university's Director of Human Resources, wrote: "I acknowledge that many staff will not choose to participate in the industrial action and apologise for having to write to everyone, however, we are unable to identify in advance who will be taking action."
Wright adds that the "University respects the right" of staff to strike, but warns: "The University does not accept partial performance and where this breaches an individual's contract of employment, the University reserves the right to withhold up to 100 per cent of pay."
Staff and lecturers at the university were quick to lambast the email, with one calling it "disgusting".
Lucy Mayblin, a senior sociology lecturer at Sheffield University, said: "Extremely disappointed that @sheffielduni have notified us that if we work the hours stated in our contracts it will be unlikely that we will be able to fulfil our roles and they will therefore potentially cut our pay. Frankly disgusting behaviour ."
Another lecturer added: "It’s amazing institutions like @sheffielduni are, with a straight face, threatening to punish workers if they don’t perform labour they’re not being paid for. shit is seriously wrong."
Russell Buchan, a senior lecturer in international law, added: "Shots already been fired over the upcoming strike. Sheffield University making wild threats about deducting pay for action short of strike, even though it was forced to back down on this last time around because such measures were seen as punitive and disproportionate."
During the 2018 industrial action the institution was accused of "bullying staff" for telling them 25 per cent of pay would be deducted for each day they do not reschedule cancelled classes.
A University of Sheffield spokesperson said: “The action short of a strike called by UCU has the potential to have a serious impact on our students. However, at this stage, we will not deduct any pay from staff who participate in this type of action."
The university said it will "review its decision accordingly" and would only deduct pay for "breach of contract", adding: "Our primary focus is to make sure that students feel as little impact as possible."
Correction: An earlier version of this article stated that the University "appeared to U-turn" in its response to The Tab Sheffield. The University says its position has not changed, so this has been removed.