STAFF at 37 universities are to strike over an ‘unprecedented attack on their pensions’, it was announced by their union University College Union (UCU) yesterday.
UCU general secretary Jo Grady said: ‘Our members are having their pensions cut after a decade of cuts amounting to £240,000 from their pensions, and at this moment in time we are looking at a further 35% cut to their guaranteed pension.
‘And if we are are talking about action and disruption, we were in dispute about this in 2018.
‘Universities UK tried to launch a cut like this then and they said the exact same thing that they could not afford it, but they were wrong then and they are wrong now, the scheme is viable. It has unprecedented assets at the minute.
‘And what we are seeing is an evaluation conducted in March 2020, which everyone will remember the world was almost in a kind of global economic shut down, and they are using that valuation to say either costs will increase or benefits need to be cut.
‘And we are saying that is not the case and they need to work with us, revoke those cuts, come up with some short term solutions and then action can be avoided altogether.
‘Academics took strike action in 2018, 2019, and last year. Before the pandemic staff at 74 universities held a strike.
‘I want to know why Vice Chancellors, many of whom earn £250,000-£300,000 are allowed to keep mismanaging their institutions? These pension cuts are not required and our action, over time has pushed back the cuts that they want to make.
‘These are employer initiated disputes because they are intent on attacking staff pay and conditions.
‘They are the same staff who went above and beyond for students during the last 18 months.
‘The disruption that students have had over the last 18 months is not the fault of staff it is the fault of Vice Chancellors and the mismanagement by government.
‘Our students understand that our working conditions are their learning conditions.’