Starting on Thursday the 22nd February members of the University and College Union (UCU) will begin an escalating 14-day strike during February and March against 61 universities across the UK in protest at the decision by UUK, the employers’ federation, to end the defined benefit element of the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) pension.
They are fighting this decision as these changes would result in the typical lecturer almost £10,000 a year worse off following the changes – a change forced through by UUK’s Chairperson after talks failed due to USS refusing to back down from their extreme position. University staff have already capitulated to two previous cuts to their pensions in recent years, each time being promised that no further cuts would be necessary. Now it seems clear that these most recent plans could have always been secretly on the cards as part of a long-term strategy by university bosses and their greedy mates in USS.
In a strike ballot backed by an overwhelming 88% of voting members, the walkouts will form part of a program of increasing activity over a four week period across universities from every part of the UK. From Southampton to St Andrews, from Glasgow to Goldsmiths, members of the UCU will strike to let universities know ‘the full scale of disruption they will be hit with if they refuse to sort this mess out’ (Sally Hunt, UCU General Secretary).
Why the IWW is supporting this action:
Education is one of the key parts of the IWW’s philosophy, as is the idea that ‘An Injury to One is an Injury to All’. The proposed pension changes must be viewed in the wider context of the general and relentless erosion of workers hard-won benefits and rights and its wholesale subjection to the whims of ‘market forces’. As such, we recognise that this isn’t just UCU’s battle: because an injury to them today, will be our injury tomorrow, and it is only by standing in solidarity with workers across all industries that we can fight to defend what we have won by grit and determination.
Many members of the IWW across the UK are also members of UCU, and against a backdrop of the increasing marketisation of the universities sector, with increasing workloads and worsening conditions, the IWW considers that success here would not only ensure that members pensions are protected, but will also pave the way to build a greater position of strength in which better conditions for all university staff and students can be won.
The IWW stands in solidarity with the UCU and encourages all members, whether members of UCU or not, to support your fellow workers by standing shoulder to shoulder with them in their fight.
How can I help?
- Visit the UCU website here to find your nearest institution and head to the picket lines during strike days to show them your support!
- Share updates from their social media pages to make sure that awareness of the strike, its causes and what universities need to do to resolve this spreads far and wide!
- Contact Universities UK to demand they listen to the UCU and stop this attack on their members’ futures! Email firstname.lastname@example.org or Tweet to @UniversitiesUK
What pickets are taking place in Bristol?
- Thursday 22nd February – there will picket lines around the University from 8am, followed by a rally outside Senate House at 10.30, with a subsequent march down to the Wills Memorial Building.
- Monday 26th February – picket lines in the morning as above; rally in the afternoon starting 1.30pm outside the Wills Memorial Building. UCU are hoping for a strong presence for this rally in particular as Senate is meeting inside the building at this time.