Sheffield University students stand in solidarity with striking lecturers

‘It is a united struggle’

Students at the University of Sheffield have joined lecturers on the pickets lines to support their three day strike action over pay and pension disputes.

The December strike action was passed in November after members of the university and college union (UCU) voted in favour to stand against pension cuts and fight for better pay and working conditions ballots.

More than three-quarters of UCU members voted in favour of the strike and 70.1 per cent of members voted in favour of a strike for better pay and working conditions.

Tom Raeside, a Modern History MA student at The University of Sheffield stood with lecturers on the picket line on Wednesday.

He said:“Students are being ripped off by high tuition fees and high accommodation fees and lecturers are in the same struggle.

“I think it is the student’s role to stand alongside the lecturers on the picket lines. I think it is a united struggle.

“I encourage all students, no matter what their degrees are, to stand in solidarity with the lecturers.”

Lecturers are striking for a number of reasons.

Chndy Wickramarachchi, a postgraduate research associate, is striking for universities to address pay inequality of different minority groups in the teaching workforce.

She Said: “Equality and diversity is another big issue as well, we have a massive pay gap between gender, race and disabilities.”

Julian Gosliga, a postgraduate research associate, is participating in the strike action to get universities to address the issue of casual contracts and excessive workloads for teaching staff.

He said: “For me personally, I’m going to be unemployed in March with no real certainty of a future position and there are a lot of my colleges who are much worse off.

“You question how you are supposed to be able to do any valid research when you spend the first month of your role getting used to it and then the last months looking for jobs constantly.”

He added: “Workload is another problem as we as lecturers are having to work 200 percent of their contracted hours and if you are lecturer working 200 per cent of your hours, how are you supposed to deliver the best quality teaching? We don’t feel like we are able to do our jobs effectively.”

“Recently they have decided to cut our pensions by about 30 percent, over the last 10 years our wages have fallen in real terms by 20 percent.

“There is also just rampant inequality in the sector which the university refuse to take any concrete action to address, there is also causualisation.”

Matt Robson, a lecturer in The department of Journalism, said: “Over the next few days, I hope we are going to get such a groundswell of support from lecturers, students and members of the public, that get the universities in the UK to listen to our demands because we don’t feel that they have listened to our demands.”

He added: “We want them to restart negotiations and we want them to listen to our demands in full and we really hope we can achieve that in the next few days.”

The University of Sheffield is one of 58 universities in which strikes are being carried out over both pay and pensions.

The UCU claims the strikes are to try and address a 20% decrease in staff pay consisting of twelve years of below-inflation pay offers.

The disputes are also over cuts of 35% to guaranteed pensions, pay cuts, casualisation, equality pay gaps and unsafe workloads.

More Information on why the strikes are taking place can be found on the UCU’s website

Strike action at Sheffield University will continue until Friday 3 December. 

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