Facebook Instagram Twitter YouTube

University Staff Strike Across the UK

Universities across the UK are on strike. What are lecturers, researchers, administrators, computer staffs, librarians and postgraduates fighting for?

Alejandra Ríos

February 23, 2018
Facebook Twitter Share

Photo credits: Neil Terry

On Thursday February 22nd, staff at UK universities started a wave of strike action in defence of their pensions. This is the biggest industrial action ever taken by the union. Lecturers, researchers, administrators, computer staffs, librarians and postgraduates are involved in the struggle and they will strike for fourteen days intermittently over four-weeks. Throughout the whole period they will also work-to-contract, which means staff will not undertake voluntary duties.

The strike is a response to plans to slash benefits of the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) pension scheme. According to the University and College Union (UCU) this would leave a typical lecturer almost £10,000 a year worse off in retirement than under the current set-up. Unsurprisingly UCU members support action. In the ballot authorizing the strike 88 percent of members who voted approved striking. The turnout was 58 percent.

In an article featured in London Review of books on 16 February 2018, Waseem Yaqoob, lecturer at the University of Cambridge, argues: “The Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) has more than 400,000 members. According to Universities UK (UUK), the employers’ association, USS faces a deficit that requires its transformation from a defined benefit scheme, providing staff with a guaranteed retirement income, into a defined contribution scheme, made up of individual pension funds subject to the vagaries of the stock market. These changes, imposed in the teeth of opposition from union negotiators, will leave everyone who currently pays into USS worse off.”

ucu_bbc.jpg

Photo credits: BBC

The employers’ association is seeking to push through the changes at all costs and have refused to negotiate with UCU. The projected USS pensions deficit – used to justify the attack – is based on a worst-case scenario where every university in the scheme went bust. This argument is ridiculous because there is next to nil chance the tens of organisations and universities linked to the USS will go under under simultaneously.

In actuality, UK universities are getting richer and those riches are pooling at the top. Since 2009, lecturers’ real wages have fallen by 16% whilst vice-chancellors and senior managers enjoy ever-growing salaries. Beyond the staff, the students also receive less from the thriving universities. They finish their degrees with massive debts and with little prospect of finding a decent job despite paying £9,250 a year.

Pickets and rallies have been organised in almost every single university around the country. In some cities ‘Teach-out actions’ were called by lecturers and students in order to make their voice heard. The support of the students has been impressive and undeterred by the strike affecting them the most.

The conditions that underlie the strike is the marketization of education – through the weapon of privatisation – to transform the nature of education and turn students into clients. And further, if the bosses are successful in gutting the USS a dangerous precedent will be set for all public pension schemes. Support the strike!

The strike dates are:

Week one – Thursday 22 and Friday 23 February (two days)
Week two – Monday 26, Tuesday 27 and Wednesday 28 February (three days)
Week three – Monday 5, Tuesday 6, Wednesday 7 and Thursday 8 March (four days)
Week four – Monday 12, Tuesday 13, Wednesday 14, Thursday 15 and Friday 16 March (five days)

Facebook Twitter Share

Europe

A Russian tank fires toward Kharkiv on the May 10 offensive against Ukraine.

Russia’s Offensive in Ukraine May Be a Turning Point in the War

Russia’s May 10 offensive in Ukraine may be a turning point in the dynamics of the war, and the specter of Ukraine’s defeat is exposing the cracks that divide the Western powers.

Claudia Cinatti

May 21, 2024

Nancy Fraser, Jacques Rancière, Silvia Federicci and many others say: Stop the Criminalization of Palestine Solidarity in France!

Anasse Kazib, a union activist and former presidential candidate, was recently interrogated by French anti-terrorist police. In this open letter, more than 800 prominent intellectuals and activists call to stand united against the criminalization of Palestine solidarity.

A mash-up of Macron over a palestinian flag and articles detailing the rising repression

Against the Criminalization of Opinion and in Defense of Our Right to Support Palestine: We Must Stand Up!

In France, the repression of Palestine supporters is escalating. A conference by La France Insoumise (LFI) has been banned; a union leader has been arrested and charged for speaking out for Palestine; court cases have increased against those who “condone terrorism”; and the state has stepped up its “anti-terrorism” efforts. In the face of all this, we must stand together.

Nathan Deas

April 23, 2024

Occupy Against the Occupation: Protest Camp in Front of Germany’s Parliament

Since Monday, April 8, pro-Palestinian activists have been braving Germany's bleak climate — both meteorological and political — to protest the Israeli genocide in Gaza, and the unconditional German support for it. 

Erik de Jong

April 20, 2024

MOST RECENT

Two large signs that read "UC Divest from Genocide" and "Gaza Solidarity Encampment" behind the two signs a "UAW on Strike sign" pokes out

Dispatch from Day 2 of the UC Santa Cruz Picket Line

Left Voice member and City University of New York worker Olivia reports on the second day of her trip to Santa Cruz for UAW 4811’s historic strike to talk to workers.

Olivia Wood

May 25, 2024

Why Won’t PSC-CUNY Stand with Palestine Now?

While other higher education unions are going on strike in defense of their workers and against the genocide in Gaza, the bureaucratic leadership of PSC-CUNY just crushed a resolution calling on the university to divest from Israel and to drop the charges against Palestinian activists arrested on April 30. 

James Dennis Hoff

May 24, 2024

Attack on Pro-Palestinian Protestors at UMich Latest Example of Democrats Defending Israel’s Genocide in Gaza

Capitalist apologists from the Democratic Party have chosen their business partners in Israel’s far-right government over Palestinian lives. In Ann Arbor, those same so-called “progressive” Democrats decided to bring felony charges against protestors earlier this week, encouraging harsh police violence against the University of Michigan encampment.

Ryan McCarty

May 24, 2024
Activists in Detroit speaking at a press conference condemning repression of the pro-Palestine movement on May 20, 2024.

Detroit Activists Hold Press Conference to Condemn Repression of Pro-Palestine Protesters

Detroit Will Breathe organized a press conference to discuss the police violence and repression against pro-Palestine protesters. The movement must stand in solidarity and unite to combat the increase of repression.

Kyle Thibodeau

May 23, 2024