UCU members on strike. Photo: Paul Mattsson
UCU members on strike. Photo: Paul Mattsson

Vote ‘yes’ in the reballot on pay, casualisation and workload

Dan Felmlee , UCU member, personal capacity

The University and College Union (UCU) has made a joint statement with Universities UK (UUK), the employers’ representative, to restore the 35% cut previously made to the university employee pension scheme, and to make good what has been lost, by April 2024.

This victory has been hard-earned by workers striking 69 days since 2018. UCU General Secretary Jo Grady states: “Today is a historic victory for UCU members. It should also be motivation for every single worker in the UK who has seen their pension slashed. Our members can be rightly proud.”

Achieving restoration of the pensions is indeed a huge accomplishment that would not have occurred without the struggle and persistence of UCU members. The total value of the win is over £15 billion.

It doesn’t alter the fundamental problems of a privatised pension scheme however, which is what led to this problem in the first place. While the universities scheme (USS) projects to maintain pension contribution rates to 2029, there are no guarantees. UCU members have limited oversight of the scheme, and the valuation methodology is flawed. It is possible the scheme could face attacks in the future.

The lesson is that striking works, along with having a vibrant workers’ union, and hopefully this will encourage other union members to fight. 

This should reinvigorate the UCU’s ‘four fights’ demands: fair pay, equality, eliminating casualisation, and action on workloads.

Our union leadership needs to learn this lesson too, and mount a serious campaign on pay and the other demands, instead of the delays and retreats that have marked the fight on pay this summer and autumn.  (see ‘Universities: UCU strikes and reballot:  A serious fighting lead needed’ at socialistparty.org.uk)

Vote ‘yes’ in the reballot, that runs till 3 November.