Hundreds of Sheffield College support staff win payrise

Support staff at Sheffield College will see a salary increase as high as 18 per cent from May as leaders agree to pay all workers the real living wage “for the first time”.

Trade union Unison has negotiated a deal that will see the college now pay a minimum rate of £9.30 an hour, which is above the £8.72 national living wage for workers aged 25 and above.

The real living wage was devised by charity the Living Wage Foundation, and a total of 133 non-teaching workers at Sheffield College, including cleaners, cleaning supervisors and estate staff, are set to benefit.

Around 400 of the college’s support staff, some of whom work at subsidiary companies, will also see their consolidated pay increase by at least 2.75 per cent.

Unison’s Yorkshire and Humber area organiser Jordan Stapleton said many of the lowest paid employees will see their pay increase by up to £2,805, or 18.6 per cent, “after years of bearing the brunt of austerity policies designed to slash costs”.

This two-year deal, over 2018-19 and 2019-20, comes after the union had organised a strike at Sheffield College in November over changes to administrative staff contracts.

Unison had not balloted for fresh strike action but was in a formal dispute with Sheffield College over performance-related pay. Unions have to formally register a dispute to take industrial action.

It has been agreed that performance pay will be removed for lower pay grades, and a commitment has been made to discuss the future of performance pay, including phasing it out for all staff.

The union has argued that performance pay can have a negative effect on staff, by making them focus on competing for pay awards, rather than supporting teamwork and better service delivery.

Several of the college’s pay grades have also been adjusted, with staff at each level seeing their pay increase.

At a minimum, consolidated pay has increased by 2.75 per cent for 2018-19 and 2019-20 and staff will receive a non-consolidated pay-off of one per cent.

The college already awarded staff a one per cent pay rise last November, and this further raise will be paid in May 2020.

Owing to it being a two-year deal, parts of the increase will be backdated to February 2019 and parts will be backdated to February 2020.

Sheffield College generated a £1.3 million operating deficit in 2019, but its financial health is rated as ‘good’ by the Education & Skills Funding Agency.

Paul Simpson, the college’s executive director of human resources and organisation development, said they are “confident” the pay award is sustainable, owing to the college having budgeted for it and because of its financial health.

He added that “investing in our staff is the right thing to do” and is “vital to achieving our strategic ambition of being an employer of choice in our region”.

The raise will also affect workers at the college’s other businesses: Sparks Managed Services Ltd, where 128 employees will benefit, and Sparks Services Ltd, where 18 employees working in areas such as marketing and learner recruitment will receive the uplift.