Socialist Worker

Lecturers want all-out strike after pay docked over pensions action

by Sadie Robinson
Issue No. 2429

UCU members marching to defend pensions in 2011

UCU members marching to defend pensions in 2011 (Pic: Guy Smallman)

Lecturers are calling for an indefinite strike after a savage attack from bosses.

UCU union members at 69 universities began a marking boycott on Thursday of last week in defence of their USS pension scheme.

Yet bosses at several universities are docking 100 percent of pay from workers taking part in the action. These include Bradford, Liverpool, Surrey and Sussex.

UCU members at the University of Bradford last week passed a motion calling for an indefinite strike in response.

Around 150 UCU members met at University of Liverpool on Monday of this week. They voted almost unanimously to strike until the pay docking is lifted. Workers also passed a motion calling for a special higher education conference. 

Mark O’Brien is a researcher there. He told Socialist Worker, “Our bosses say they’re not going to pay us at all. Union members are outraged. We expect the full backing of the union.”

UCU general secretary Sally Hunt said the union would “fully support any members facing punitive pay docking”.

At a higher education sector conference UCU members agreed to escalating national action in response to any pay docking. So far the union has failed to do so.

Instead union leaders are drawing up shoddy compromises. University bosses want to end the final salary element of the scheme, slashing thousands from workers’ pensions.

Now the UCU leadership is proposing a “compromise” to scrap the final salary element and move towards a career average scheme. The UCU Left, which Socialist Workers Party members are part of, said it was an “appalling concession”.

It is calling for union leaders to withdraw the proposal and call national action in response to pay docking. It is also calling for a special higher education sector conference so workers can discuss the campaign.

  • UCU union members at Lambeth College are balloting for strikes to defend their terms and conditions. The ballot ends on Monday of next week.
  • Lecturers at University of South Wales were set to strike to defend jobs on Thursday of this week.

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