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University of Sheffield cleaners demand more money with some unable to buy school shoes for their kids


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University of Sheffield’s cleaners are demanding £10 per hour as staff say they are struggling financially – with some “unable to buy school shoes” for their children.

More than 300 cleaning staff work at the institute, earning at least £9.50 per hour working mostly part-time according to the Unite trade union – the current Real Living Wage recommended by the Living Wage Foundation.

But with inflation rising, energy bills set to increase, and the Real Living Wage set to increase in November, workers and union reps have today demanded an increased £10 per hour wage.

For the latest University of Sheffield news and stories, click here

One cleaner who wished to remain anonymous said staff were struggling on the existing wage, with some in debt and others struggling to buy school shoes for their children.

I know colleagues with children really, really struggling, a lot of us are doing part-time work as carers for [children or older relatives],” she said.

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“We’re not giving up on [the pay rise] because we can’t. We’re getting into debt.”

The real living wage is currently £9.50 but is set to rise in November, meaning staff will again suffer from low wages, the cleaner said.

Unite regional officer Harriet Eisner said the cleaners had worked through the Covid pandemic on “poverty pay” with unsociable hours and no pay progression.

“Most cleaners work a 20 hour week, which means it would take them almost 30 years to earn vice-chancellor Koen Lambert’s annual £285,000 salary,” a Unite spokesman said.

SheffieldLabour MPs Paul Blomfield, Olivia Blake and Louise Haigh have all backed the workers’ demands for £10 per hour.

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“Cleaning staff are overwhelmingly women, they work unsociable hours and are the lowest paid members of staff at the university. It’s time these workers were not overlooked and given the pay they deserve,” said Ms Haigh.

A University of Sheffield spokesman said it determined pay through negotiations with unions including Unite.

“Our cleaning staff are paid a minimum of £9.50 per hour, in line with the rate recommended by the Living Wage Foundation. We have recently awarded our cleaning staff and others on similar pay grades a 3.6 per cent pay increase,” he said.

“The University employs 357 cleaning staff and supervisors and we are proud to have been able to continue to provide them ongoing employment during the pandemic, either in vital roles helping to maintain our campus as a Covid-secure setting, or furloughed on full pay.

“We are incredibly grateful to them for the important contributions they have made to our response to the pandemic.”

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Written by: Rother Radio News

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