Students protest at Sheffield Uni against UCU’s ‘nasty’ lecturer strikes

‘Stop your nasty strike’

Students have staged a protest outside Sheffield University’s campus against the “nasty” lecturer strikes.

The group pinned up posters on the railings outside the Octagon on Wednesday morning, reading “UCU stop your nasty strike. Love, silenced students x”.

They claim the actions of striking staff in Sheffield on picket lines has been “intimidating” and that opponents of the strike have been shut down. The message was soon torn down after it appeared at 6am.

Hundreds of staff at the Uni of Sheffield and Hallam are in the middle of a 14-day walkout as members of the University and College Union, in a row over pensions, pay and working conditions.

Students at the 74 universities hit by the strikes have voiced anger at the loss of teaching time, and disruption to exams, essays and dissertation supervision.

The message was pinned up opposite Firth Court

Thomas Woollard, a third-year history student who organised today’s protest alongside a fellow third-year, feels lecturers are “forcing” students to support them.

“We did this activity today because UCU need to understand how silenced students feel,” he told The Tab Sheffield. “The recycled line of ‘lecturers working conditions are the student learning conditions’ is no longer is a valid position to hold.

“The acts of intimidation by members of UCU on the pickets are unacceptable and is such that many students I’ve chatted to feel blackmailed by lecturers into supporting their pickets.

The posters were soon torn down

“At the end of the day, they are the people who mark our work and therefore, we are almost forced to support them because if we voice opposition we will be penalised in the long run. The removal of our posters today also strengthens the argument that free speech is hard to come by on university campuses.”

It is the third wave of strikes to hit Sheffield University in less than two years. During the 2018 industrial action, lecturers at the institution’s politics department were criticised by the Universities Minister for physically blockading students from crossing the picket line.

A student is currently suing Sheffield for £2,000 compensation over classes cancelled to the strike, while more than 14,000 Hallam students have petitioned for a refund.

The UCU have been contacted for comment.