Socialist Worker

Lecturers must fight attacks on their pensions

Issue No. 2210

University lecturers face savage attacks on their pensions – and their UCU union says industrial action is “inevitable”.

The employers want damaging changes to the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS).

The plans affect 250,000 workers and would see new lecturers losing an average of £127,000 from their total pension payout.

Employers want to replace the current “final salary” scheme with one based on “career average” earning for new entrants.

This hits workers who earn much more at the end of their working life than at the beginning—such as lecturers.

Other possible “reforms” include raising the pension age to 65, increasing employee contributions to 7.5 percent and linking the pension age to increases in the state pension age.

This could see lecturers’ pension age rise to 68.

Lecturers have already voted by 96 percent to reject the proposals.

The UCU has set out its own plans to reduce the scheme’s deficit, which do not include introducing a career average scheme.

However, the union’s alternative also includes higher workers’ contributions and raising the retirement age for new entrants.

But there is no need to make these cuts. As lecturers noted at their congress earlier this year, university vice chancellors’ salaries went up by an average of 9 percent last year.

Higher education delegates at the congress were determined to defend their pensions.

They voted without opposition to call on the union to “give all possible support to the campaign… up to and including an all-out national strike of all UCU members”.

The union is demanding that trustees of the USS scheme ballot all members on both sets of proposals.

If this doesn’t happen, the UCU should stick to what was agreed at congress and begin industrial action to defend workers’ pensions.

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