By Sadie Robinson
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Vote for pensions strikes in the UCU union to stop attack on USS scheme

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Issue 2587
Striking for pensions in Cardiff, 2011
Striking for pensions in Cardiff, 2011 (Pic: Cardiff Guardian/Flickr)

A ballot of UCU union members for strikes over pensions was set to end on Friday. Workers at some 68 universities across Britain are balloting to stop an attack on their USS pension scheme.

Employers want the defined benefit scheme to become a defined contribution one—slashing the value of the pensions.

The union’s Higher Education Committee is set to discuss the ballot result on Monday. If workers vote for strikes, the union could call escalating action of up to four or five days a week throughout February.

The ballot is disaggregated, so each institution’s vote will be counted separately. There is a risk that some branches will just miss reaching the 50 percent turnout threshold the Tories have imposed on unions.

But if there’s a vote for strikes the union should call them—and before negotiations with bosses end on Tuesday. Escalating action has the power to stop their assault on pensions.

Shadow chancellor John McDonnell will speak at a UCU London region rally on Wednesday 17 January, 7pm, Cruciform Building (LT1), UCL, Gower St, WC1E 6BT.
Read the new USS pamphlet at

Ballot can deliver walkouts

A ballot for strikes over pay was set to begin in further education colleges on Tuesday of next week. It runs until 12 February.

Bosses have offered UCU union members an insulting 1 percent pay offer. But the union said workers have suffered a real terms pay cut of 23.6 percent since 2008.

The branches so far authorised to ballot are Capital City College Group, South Thames College Group, United College Group, New City College, Croydon College, Epping Forest College, Havering College, Lambeth College, Richmond Upon Thames College, Sandwell College, Sunderland College and Sussex Coast College Hastings.

A consultation last year saw UCU members back strikes over pay by 75 percent. Workers now need to organise to ensure the maximum turnout in the ballot.

UCU activists are encouraging meetings and local pay rallies where possible with other unions.

  • UCU has suspended action short of a strike at the University of Manchester for more talks. Union members there held a successful two-day strike in October over job cuts.

Following the strike, bosses said no academics would be made compulsorily redundant.

Yet one worker still faces compulsory redundancy at the university.

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