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14 February 2018

UCU uni strike: coordinate public sector fightback

Strike for decent pay and pensions

Sam Morecroft, Sheffield UCU anti-casualisation officer (personal capacity)

The Socialist Party gives its full backing to University and College Union (UCU) members in 61 universities taking up to 14 days of strike action in February and March against plans to completely scrap the defined benefit pensions scheme.

Despite all the hurdles of the anti-union laws, 88% of members voted for action on a turnout of 58%.That's the largest turnout UCU has ever recorded in a national ballot, and it's a testament to the hard work of branch activists at local level to secure what we needed to meet the thresholds introduced by the draconian Trade Union Act.

The turnout also represents the anger and disbelief at the scale of the attack on our pensions. Scrapping defined benefit will mean the average lecturer will be around 200,000 worse off in retirement. Most university workers will lose 50% or more of their pension.

Despite the clear rejection of the proposals that our ballot represents, the employers' association Universities UK has refused to budge. The pensions regulator says our pension fund is in deficit, but research commissioned by UCU shows the pension fund is in fact in surplus and the employers refuse to consider increasing their contributions!

This attack is so huge that we have no other choice but to take sustained action to push back the employers and we are building for this action right now. We ask for the full support of students and the labour movement.

However it is not just UCU members who are under attack - in the public sector millions of workers are still suffering pay cuts as a result of the government's pay cap.

The civil service union PCS has won a consultative ballot for strike action against the pay cap and Unison members in local government are currently being balloted on their pay offer, with the union calling on them to reject and vote for action.

Socialist Party members in the public sector unions are calling for the unions to get together to coordinate action.

The TUC demonstration on 12 May should be used as a call to arms for us all to fight, and fight together, not just to stop the attacks on pensions and pay but to get rid of the Tory government once and for all.

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