University pension strike looms after cuts

UCU members on the picket line during their 2020 strike in defence of pensions

UNIVERSITY lecturers are gearing up for strike action against cuts to their pensions.

Universities UK’s (UUK) announced yesterday that cuts to the pensions of university staff will go ahead after the agreement of the pensions’ trustees. A mass meeting of UCU members was called yesterday to discuss industrial action over the issue.

In 2018, cuts to the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) sparked strikes backed by students, mass marches and occupations.

In 2019-20, strike action on USS continued, and action on a parallel dispute over pay equality, workload, casualisation, and pay levels was added.

On the current looming dispute UCU general secretary Jo Grady, said: ‘The pension cuts confirmed today tell us nothing that we don’t already know. Employers are determined to sacrifice the retirement income of their staff at the altar of a flawed valuation and a refusal to agree to a small increase in their own contributions or properly consider UCU’s own proposals.

‘It is deeply disingenuous and downright offensive for employers to claim that they have heroically prevented contributions increasing.

‘The simple fact of the matter is that their proposals will slash thousands of pounds from the retirement income of university workers and do nothing to help the thousands of low paid and insecurely employed who are priced out of the scheme at present.

‘Vice chancellors across the UK on eye watering salaries should look their staff in the eye and tell them the truth, rather than hide behind Universities UK press releases.

‘Today, UCU held a mass member meeting where the union discussed its plans for industrial action over this attack on pensions.

‘Confirmation today from employers that the cuts will go ahead will now put rocket boosters under our campaign. There is still time for employers to walk this back and get around the table. They either do that or face widespread industrial action at our time of choosing.’