Socialist Worker

UCU union fights for jobs, pay and pensions

by Jim Wolfreys, UCU NEC (personal capacity)
Issue No. 2238

Ballot papers will go out this week for the most important dispute in the UCU lecturers’ union’s history. There will be two simultaneous ballots, one on the employers’ current offer on a range of issues including jobs and pay, and one on the USS pension scheme.

Further ballots will be held in FE colleges and on the TPS pension scheme from 23 February.

The central issues are jobs, pensions and pay. Our employers want to make it easier to sack university staff.

UCU estimates that cuts in government spending could lead to 40,000 redundancies in universities.

Some vice-chancellors, many of whom have urged MPs to back huge rises in tuition fees, are now refusing even to discuss a national agreement on improving job security and defending provision. But they don’t just want to make it easier to sack us, they want to make it cheaper too.

On top of this, the employers want to introduce a new pension scheme which will calculate pensions by averaging out our salaries over a whole career, rather than the current final year salary scheme.

Once the new scheme is introduced, they will seek to move everyone onto it.

This will immediately reduce the “cost” of severance packages for staff being made redundant.

The employers’ current offer on pay is 0.4 percent—which amounts to a 4.4 percent pay cut.

Vice-chancellors want to drive down staff costs, despite awarding themselves pay rises of up to 20 percent last year.

This is not just a pay cut—it will downgrade the role of university staff in society as part of a wider attack on our students’ education.

These attacks put the future of higher education itself at stake. We need to vote yes to action now over jobs, pensions and pay if we are to head off an unprecedented wave of redundancies that will destroy the university sector.

Jim is standing for UCU vice-president. Elections to the UCU national executive and national positions began on Monday. Go to for a full list of candidates

Click here to subscribe to our daily morning email newsletter 'Breakfast in red'

Mobile users! Don't forget to add Socialist Worker to your home screen.