The 22 March all-staff meeting held by the University and College Union (UCU) at Senate House attracted nearly 40 people keen to receive an update on the current UK-wide universities pensions dispute.
It was led by Tim Hall, UCU’s Senate House branch chair, who provided a summary of events to date including a day-by-day picket report. He also recognised the ongoing support from the Independent Workers Union of Great Britain (IWGB), and confirmed there will be a further 14 days of strike action starting in late May or early June.
A proposed five-day teaching strike after Easter has now been set for 23–27 April, which is good news for IWGB. On 25 and 26 April its University of London (UoL) members will be holding the biggest outsourced worker strike in the history of higher education. For the first time, all UoL workers will be able to support each other. This will be a massive boost for the outsourced workers and universities pensions campaigns.
During the meeting UCU members submitted a range of useful contributions relating to the pension valuation and issues around benefits calculation. Points made included the fact that the Universities Superannuation Scheme’s (USS) valuation was based on assumed 4 per cent year-on-year pay rises for all affected staff. In a moment of levity most of the people present agreed that, if Universities UK guaranteed these rises, it is something they would be willing to settle for and to hell with the pension.
The meeting was also told that only three out of 12 USS board members are union representatives. The statutory requirement demands at least one quarter. This questions the legality of the make-up of the board. Another point of discussion was the weighting of the Oxbridge colleges in the original count. All their responses were apparently provided by one external consultancy firm.
Branch members are now looking (in non-UCU members’ absence) at how to keep the issue ‘live’ while waiting for the next round of industrial action.
The next IWGB branch meeting is on 28 March, IHR lower mezzanine, 12.30pm. See you there.