A ‘lousy business model’ has been blamed for today’s (Tuesday 14 July) decision by the University of Sheffield to sack and reengage over 8,000 of its employees in a bid to cut costs, allegedly due to the pandemic.

Unite, Britain and Ireland’s largest union, which represents over 350 university workers in key technical and facilities posts, pledged to campaign strongly, with the other higher education unions, to protect jobs as the lockdown eases. 

Unite said that the university bosses were looking for staff to go down to four days-a- week, with no pay rises, no incremental pay rises and no promotions.

The university is claiming that it needs to make £100 million in savings as it fears a shortfall in students in the coming academic year, including the much valued students from China, although Unite says it has seen no evidence of this alleged drop in student numbers.

Unite regional officer Harriet Eisner said: “We are appalled at the callous attitude that the University of Sheffield has displayed to its dedicated workforce. It is a wealthy institution with a lousy business model.

“The announcement is predicated on a shortfall in students this coming academic year – which necessitates this call for a £100 million in savings. The university’s management are panicking that their top fee paying Chinese students will defer, but we have not seen any evidence of this.

“It is clear from its proposal – to reduce pay and terms and conditions for its employees – that it has no strategy. Instead of working with unions to create a more sustainable strategy for the future, the university intends to strip back the terms and conditions of its skilled workforce.

“The threat of dismissal is no way to enter into consultations with union representatives about their members’ basic terms and conditions.

“The University of Sheffield has a hopeless business model which relies on attracting top fee-paying international students to prop up an institution which is a major employer in the city. 

“The leadership of the university need to think very carefully about why it wants its staff to pay the price for the top management’s failure.

“Unite will be challenging any cuts to terms and conditions. We will work strenuously to protect the jobs of our members and wish to engage constructively with the university to chart a positive way forward.”


Notes to editors:

For more information please contact Unite senior communications officer Shaun Noble on 020 3371 2060 or 07768 693940. Unite press office is on:  020 3371 2065.

Please note the numbers above are for journalists’ enquiries only.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @unitetheunion Facebook: unitetheunion1 Web: unitetheunion.org 

Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest union with members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.