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UCU Official Dispute

Staff at Staffordshire University set to walk out over two-tier workforce threat

14 March 2022

Staffordshire University will see strike action on Monday 28 March unless it drops plans to employ new staff via a wholly owned subsidiary company, said UCU.

The announcement comes after Staffordshire University staff voted to strike over management's introduction of a two-tier workforce. 70% of staff who voted in the ballot voted yes to strike action. 80% of those who voted also voted yes to action short of strike. This could include working strictly to contract, refusing to cover for colleagues and refusing to undertake voluntary activities. The turnout beat the Tory anti trade union threshold of 50% and UCU has notified the university that staff will walkout on Monday 28 March. Staff also have a mandate to take further industrial action.

The strike is over management's plans to employ all new academic staff through a subsidiary company on different contractual terms to those of existing employees in the university itself. UCU believes this will lead to a splintering of terms and conditions, creating a two tier workforce; colleagues working side by side could find themselves under different management and direction, destroying cohesion and creating a poor working environment. UCU said the plans are an attack on the hard won working conditions of everyone employed by the university.

New staff employed by the subsidiary will not be able to access the defined benefit Teachers' Pension Scheme and instead will have to accept the inferior defined contribution Staffordshire University Pension Scheme. No other university has denied academic staff access to the nationally agreed scheme for the sector. 

UCU regional official Anne O'Sullivan said: 'This huge vote for strike action should make management end plans to put staff onto inferior contracts with inferior pensions. Staffordshire's plans are an attack on our hard-won terms and conditions. Unless they are withdrawn staff will stage a one day walkout later this month with further industrial action likely.

'No other university has removed access for staff to the national pension scheme. Colleagues doing exactly the same work should not be on different contracts. As well as facing strike action, unless the university abandons plans to create a two-tier work force, it will also struggle to attract and retain staff who will look to work elsewhere. This will lead to a devastating impact on student learning, threatening the university's future.'

Last updated: 15 March 2022