University of Sheffield International College workers stage first strike at UK private higher education provider – Fxsad

University of Sheffield International College workers stage first strike at UK private higher education provider

Teachers and office staff on November 28, 29 and 30 for the first time in private higher education providers in the UK. Members of the University and College Union (UCU) at Sheffield International College (USIC) have voted to reject a four-month extra 1 per cent pay rise proposed by their employer’s study group.

Outside the University of Sheffield International College, Solly Street, November 30, 2022, teachers on picket line. [Photo: WSWS]

The October vote was followed by a five-day strike by 80 USIC workers. 84 percent voted to strike after the study group refused to offer more than 5 percent. The revised offer was rejected in a return vote last Friday, after the union called off the first two days of action. UCU regional officer Julie Kelly said a day before the strike was called off – a “sign of goodwill” that the study group “could do better”.

USIC is linked to the University of Sheffield and uses its armoury, offering preparatory courses for overseas students. It contracts with 50 universities for online and face-to-face learning and is one of the largest providers of corporate international education for universities in the UK, Europe, North America, Australia and New Zealand.

Striking USIC workers have rejected their 12 percent wage demand as “unreasonable.” A home-made postcard posted on the ballot this week showed a big pay rise for study group managers. The number of senior managers earning more than £100,000 has tripled in recent years. Directors’ positions are known for salaries between £120,000 and £130,000. The starting salary for a full-time teacher at USIC is approximately £32,000, below the national average of £38,131, while office and support staff are employed at full-time rates just above the minimum wage.

of World Socialist Web Site Educators have spoken out on the picket lines, calling for a reversal of the gap between lower pay for workers and the gap between the study group’s profits during the pandemic. Education workers have linked their struggles to the impact of market reforms on higher education.

As one full-time teacher explained, “We are making history now. Last year we only got a 3 percent salary increase. It covered only six months. We were told things would get better after the pandemic. The study group made savings – they didn’t have the same resource costs to hire teaching facilities as a result of switching to online learning. It is necessary to fight against the damage level. The ratio of permanent contracts is between 35 percent and 65 percent of those with no secure job. I do not want to admit this to my colleagues.

The teacher of short-term contracts added: “Many of our contracts are very short, as short as three months, which of course means that the staff is flexible, but it also means that we’re in a cycle of constantly applying for jobs we’ve already done.” I am working in different universities and moving around the country in my case.

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