Lecturers at 63 universities teaching more than 1,200,000 students will strike to defend their pensions later this month.
Their union, UCU, has announced strikes for 17 March in Scotland, 18 March in Wales, 21 March in Northern Ireland and 22 March in England, followed by a strike across the UK on 24 March.
University employers want to amend the Universities Superannuation Scheme from 1 April to reduce pension benefits and increase costs for workers. For existing members of the scheme, contributions would go up. New starters would receive a career average rather than a final salary pension and lose thousands of pound a year.
UCU estimates that a lecturer who under the current system received a pension of £22,962 would get £15,704 under the new scheme. This is divide and defeat: the employers have made it clear that ultimately they want all staff in a career average scheme.
In separate ballots members in post ‘92 institutions and FE members are also being balloted over the Teachers’ Pension Scheme and pay. The success of the USS ballot should boost the other ballots. The other, unwelcome, boost is the threat to the TPS: retirement age raised from 60 to 65, 50% increase in contributions, final salary to career average, and indexation from RPI to the lower CPI are all threatened.
Activists in UCU must ensure a big turnout and yes vote in the current ballots. Coordinated national action across FE and HE is the necessary next step.
Unison and PCS members should ask why their unions are failing to act against the job slaughter that is imminent. A class-wide attack needs a class-wide response… and sooner rather than later.
Students: support your lecturers!
Student walkouts, demos and occupations against fees and cuts were one front in the war to defend education. The UCU action is another.
We need unity between students and education workers if we are going to stop the government’s attacks. We need student protests and occupations alongside the UCU strike.
The National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts is launching a campaign to support the UCU. For details visit NCAFC website www.anticuts.com.