University Strikes: Whose Side Are You On?

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With the university pensions strikes going on for longer than originally planned, over 1 million students will be further affected. Which side of the fence are you on?

Here’s everything you need to know about the strikes:

Who are the UCU?

UCU, the University and College Union, is the largest further and higher education union in the world, representing all lecturers and other staff at universities.

Why are lecturers striking?

Under the current pension rules, a lecturer who is retiring in 2050 will receive a pension worth £22,406 per annum. According to the proposed cut to it, he/she will result in a pension reduction from £22,406 to £9,240. In short, lecturers are angry at the suggested changes to their pensions as the changes could lose them up to £10,000 a year poorer in retirement.

“COULD YOU SUPPORT A FAMILY ON £9,240 PER ANNUM?”

Why are university saying these changes are needed?

Universities UK (UKK), which represents UK’s universities, explains that the current pension scheme is facing a deficit of £6bn, and they have a legal duty to reduce the pensions. Universities say that without the changes, pension contributions from not only employers but also staff would have to rise steeply.

“EVEN AFTER THE PROPOSED CHANGES, LECTURERS’ PENSIONS WILL STILL BE AT DOUBLE THE LEVEL OF THE AVERAGE IN THE PRIVATE SECTOR.”

What is happening now?

The strikes are set to take place for 14 working days, and spread across 4 weeks:

  • Thursday 22nd – Friday 23rd February
  • Monday 26th – Wednesday 28th February
  • Monday 5th – Thursday 8th March
  • Monday 12th – Friday 16th March

However, it could continue until June! Why? As the UCU say the current strikes are not putting enough pressure on universities to getting their demands being met.

How are students feeling towards the strikes?

“MY HEART SUNK WHEN I SAW THE PROPOSED DATES.”

“WE HAVE NO IDEA WHERE OUR £9250 A YEAR IS GOING!”

“I WANT TO BE IN MY LECTURES!”

As a second-year student with my grades being counted into final year, and the fact that I am not being taught everything in the lead up to essay deadlines and exams, I am frustrated, but let’s not forget that no one wants the strikes. Lecturers are not striking to cause us inconvenience, but because pensions which they believed would be guaranteed are under attack.

I want meaningful negotiations that will give my lecturers the security and peace of mind they need over their jobs and retirement so that they can focus on teaching us.

Let me know your thoughts!

Vivian Lee

Illustration by the talented Bethany Fulks

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About Author

I'm Rebecca, I study Communication and Media Studies at Loughborough whilst also being the assistant editor for Label 17/18!x If you have anything you would like to write about or any queries, email me: rebeccalaurag@gmail.com

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