‘This is a fight we have to win’ says UCU

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Imperial College engineering student Tom Poskett (front) gave his support yesterday by driving striking UCU members around the campus in a vintage truck

IMPERIAL College staff were boosted on their picket line yesterday morning by the support of an engineering student and a vintage bus.

The nationwide strike of staff at 74 universities completes its second week and fifth day of strike action today.

Pickets were out around the Imperial College campus in west London, while the vintage touring bus, with strikers on top and a loudhailer, made a big impact.

University College Union (UCU) striker Martin Lisboa told News Line: ‘We are striking over pay and pensions.

‘Management has imposed a £1,080 flat pay rise across the board. It supposedly favours low paid workers but many of those are employed by outsourcing providers and so will not benefit from this pay rise.

‘Bring back in-house all the outsourced workers.’

Another striker, Elmy Thompson, said the University Superannuation Scheme (USS) pension issue is a serious concern for all.

‘We demonstrated at the Provost’s house on the other side of the campus yesterday.

‘Our Provost is the most highly paid in the Higher Education sector at £554,000 with a grace and favour house.’

On the picket line at UCL, the University and College Union (UCU) branch President Sean Wallace told News Line: ‘People are taking this strike much more seriously. The financial consequences they face are serious.

‘A lot of people are not on high salaries.

‘In 2018, people thought the pension fund was going to be destroyed. After eight days of strike last time the employers did not shift.

‘We discussed what action we should take next at strike meetings.

‘We are now taking 14 days of strike. People are beginning to realise our fight is for the future of higher education in the UK – both education and research.

‘Universities bring in incomes of billions of pounds, surpluses are officially between one billion and two billion a year, but they are borrowing to build new campuses, so not all universities can cover these debts and they are cannibalising other universities.

‘The impact is more job losses, casualisation, spiralling workloads and low pay. This fight must be won.’