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From The Socialist newspaper, 31 January 2018

University workers' walkout for decent pensions

On the 30 June 2011 pensions strike, photo Paul Mattsson

On the 30 June 2011 pensions strike, photo Paul Mattsson   (Click to enlarge)

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

University and College Union (UCU) members in 61 universities will be taking up to 14 days of strike action in February and March if plans to completely scrap the defined benefit element of our pensions aren't dropped.

We have a strong mandate for industrial action, with 88% of members voting in the ballot saying yes to strike 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 (UUK) has refused to budge from its hardline position, or even to consider alternative solutions. The pensions regulator has said that our pension fund is in deficit, and UUK says this means there is no other option.

But analysis commissioned by UCU shows the pension fund is in surplus and the employers refuse point blank to consider increasing their contributions!

Because of the need to meet the turnout threshold, we disaggregated our ballot by branch. This was perhaps a mistake as we easily met the turnout nationally but at seven universities we just missed out despite big votes for action - for example at the University of Swansea the branch missed the 50% threshold by just two votes. Those branches are being reballoted however, so that they can join the strikes.

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.

The employers are already split on this issue, but so far their representatives UUK have not backed down. If there is no change in their position, we will take 14 days of escalating strike action, with the first two day strike likely to begin on 22 February. This will be the fight of our lives, and we ask for the full support of students and the labour movement.

UCU members in further education are also balloting at some colleges after just a 1% pay offer from employers.

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In The Socialist 31 January 2018:


Save our NHS

NHS: use the 3 February protests as a launch pad for a mass movement

NHS we're ready to fight

Northern health campaigns conference discusses the fightback

8,000 strong petition opposes closure of Sheffield health services

Labour NHS rally reveals horrors but offers no way forward

Leicester NHS protest


Opinion

Trump as Nixon: urgent questions about press freedom and the state

Capitalism v cricket


Women's liberation

For workplace trade union organisation against sexual harassment

Presidents Club sexism scandal: what you thought

100 years since women won the vote


Socialist Party workplace news

Victory for Hackney school cleaners!

Local government workers' reps reject 2% pay offer

University workers' walkout for decent pensions

Merseyrail protest

Supermarket's slash jobs - union fightback needed

Cammell Lairds strikers demand improved pay and conditions


Socialist Party news and analysis

Labour civil war re-erupts over Haringey regeneration project

Tory infighting escalates - workers' action can oust them

Failing academy chain strips school assets - end academisation!

Capitalists fear for their system at Davos

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Socialist Party reports and campaigns

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Bristol anti-cuts campaigners debate alternatives to the cuts


International socialist news and analysis

Stop the war on the Kurds

Sudan: Free Mohamed Satti

Vienna: 50,000 march against racism and austerity


 

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Related links:

UCU:

triangleUni strike: coordinate public sector fightback

triangleFat cat vice chancellors schooled by Brum students

triangleLecturers vote for strikes against pension cuts

triangleUCU members balloting for action on pension cuts

triangleLeeds college pay protests

Workers:

triangleBernie's book shows need for workers' party

triangleCapita in crisis: bring all outsourcers back in-house

triangleLocal government workers' reps reject 2% pay offer

triangleVictory for school cleaners!

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triangleSouthampton: Pay rise for uni boss, job losses for lecturers

triangleMobilise against rip-off executive pay

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triangleRoyal Mail forced back under threat of action

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triangleNorth London Socialist Party: Save our NHS - the lessons of the Barts strike

Universities:

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Pension:

triangleThe Socialist inbox

Union:

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Strikes:

triangleRMT strikes against driver-only operation continue

Education:

triangleFailing academy chain strips school assets - end academisation!

College:

trianglePlans to launch no-cuts campaign at Kirklees College

Colleges:

triangleCollege workers ballot for action in Nottingham

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