Broxtowe Labour Members joined in solidarity with striking UCU lecturers this week. We spoke to lecturer Claire Lawrence and student Polly Swain about why these strikes are so important.
“We have been taking a lot of cuts under the Tories,” says Claire. “I’ve been in the university pension scheme since 1999 and I stand to lose around £12,000 a year from my pension. The proposals to change our pensions will be even worse for my younger colleagues. They will have a massive impact on them.
”The UCU says the proposals will mean a reduction in retirement benefits by between 20% and 40% depending on grade and length of service. A typical lecturer stands to lose around £10,000 a year.
She says the support from students has been brilliant, and while they are angry, they are putting the blame firmly on the employers. Reports that the chief executive of the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) received a pay rise of £82,000, taking his salary to £566,000, has added to that anger (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-43157711).
“It’s really important that we win this dispute, not just for us, but also for other groups of public sector workers,” added Claire. “I believe the employers are testing the water and other pension schemes in local government, civil service and even the teachers’ pension scheme could also be at risk.”
The student’s union is encouraging its members to write to the Vice Chancellor and urge her to agree to resume national negotiations with the UCU in order to end the dispute.It says the university is failing its staff and students because its representatives initially proposed the complete elimination of the guaranteed pension and have refused to move at all towards the union’s position. It’s unfair that there is such a change in pension policy and Universities UK should get back round the negotiating table,” said Polly. “If the only way that they and the Vice Chancellor of Nottingham University will listen is strike action, then students need to get behind it.”
Greg Marshall says:
“This is an incredibly important strike by University staff in defence of their pensions and means so much to others with similar schemes. We need to give them our full support, and I’m proud to do so”.