Planned strike at University of Sheffield International College suspended by University and College Union

Days before a strike was due to go ahead, local University and College Union (UCU) officials at the University of Sheffield International College (USIC) suspended planned action on November 17-18. The strike, officially called off by UCU on November 16, would have been the first at a private higher education provider in the UK.

UCU announcement to end strikes at University of Sheffield International College [Photo:]

Thirty minutes before the last meeting of the USIC UCU branch before the start of the strike, the management of the employer’s study group made a last-minute taunting offer of an additional 1 per cent increase backdated to 1 September 2022 and a one-off payment of £300 for the full amount -temporary workers earning less than £25,000.

Members will vote between November 16th and November 23rd to accept or reject the offer. If members vote no, the remaining three days of planned strike action will begin on November 28th.

The 6 per cent pay deal, offered to those earning under £44,000, the bulk of the workforce, and four per cent to those whose wages exceed £44,000 still represents a pay cut of almost 6/7 per cent this year and a 10 percent pay cut in the past 24 months. The one-off payment of £300 will not go to the large number of teachers who exist on ever-fluctuating zero-hour contracts and are paid by the hour.

UCU officials said management’s offer is a second upgrade to their original offer since the industrial action vote and the third upgrade to the offer since the branch declared an official dispute.

The UCU called for a pay rise of at least 12 per cent and management initially responded with a paltry 4 per cent for the majority earning less than £44,000 and 2 per cent for those earning above that.

On the ballot, UCU wage negotiators said they believe the study group can afford to pay more. However, the union made sure to state that it was “aware” that management had declined and that their offer is described as “final”. The ballots effectively said the union had reached the limit of what can be achieved.