Victory For Sheffield Hallam University GMB Members

16 Jun 2011

An employment tribunal has ruled that a decision by university bosses to change the pay grades of 125 workers 18 months ago was unacceptable. GMB took the matter to tribunal using four workers, domestic assistants Josie Ledger and Linda Wilkinson, and catering assistants Joan Kempton and Michelle France, as test cases. A two-day hearing found the university had no contractual right to change the workers’ grades and that the process they went through to make the decision was unreasonable.

Support staff went through an independent regrading procedure in 2007 which placed them on wages higher than before. “The wage rises were quite substantial and were also backdated - this was a bugbear to the university which decided it had to do something as money was short,” said GMB Organiser Sue Hill. “They decided to carry out a second grade evaluation but this was carried out internally by the university’s own human resources department.” The result was that some cleaners and caterers, mostly working part-time, received pay cuts of more than £140 a month. They were also ordered to give back the cash they had been ‘wrongly’ paid as a result of the first evaluation - as much as £2,800 for full-time staff.

Hallam GMB convenor Pat Maddock, who was a witness at the tribunal, said everyone was pleased with the verdict and many staff from all over the university had offered their congratulations. “It has been a very technical case which not everyone has fully understood. But people have understood they have been seriously out of pocket and that is the bottom line. This sort of case is why they pay their union subs - to get the expert knowledge needed to fight their corner.”