If you want to do a lecture shout or talk to your cohort about why students should support, we’ve produced this brief guide to the issues togive you a helping hand.
Description of situation:
UUK (Universities UK — the collection of university vice-chancellors) are on course to end our teacher’s ‘defined benefits’ pension schemes. Defined benefits means that, once retired, our teachers will know exactly how much money they will receive each year and can plan their retirement accordingly. UUK are proposing moving to a system in which the amount our teachers receive depends entirely on how successfully the pension fund is gambled on the financial markets. At a minimum, this will lead to an average of 200k taken off each staff members’ pension, and it could be much greater. Many of us will want to work in academia and will be affected by these pension changes. This is a fight for our future too.
Gambling on the stock market is dangerous:
The pension fund’s crisis is already a result of poor returns on investments in the stock market and making pensions wholly reliant on market performance is dangerous. It’s unnecessary, and there are other proposals that could be worked through that would provide more security.
Uni has more money than ever:
Universities have more money than they have ever had before and are posting record profits year on year. So how are they still unable to pay our teachers’ pensions? The money is there, this is unnecessary — and our teaching is being disrupted because people are profiteering.
It is so important to support staff because their working conditions are our learning conditions!
Our staff support us — without them we cannot learn and they’re the people on the frontline helping us with our work, and pastoral care — often working extra hours outside of their job description. These are the staff that need your support, and the blame for the strikes should lie with the vice-chancellor Janet Beer, who is also the president of UUK. She is on 300k with a free mansion and driver- you can bet that her pension is not in jeopardy.
This strike is going to go ahead regardless, because our teachers have a right to defend the futures they were promised and deserve. As students we have two choices:
1. We can choose to side with our aristocratic vice-chancellor, with her free mansion, 300k salary and safe pension and go into our lectures and tell our teachers to take this enormous cut to their pensions without a fight.
2. Or we choose to stand with our teachers against this government and overpaid vice-chancellors and say no to cuts and no to debt. Another future for our education is possible and we will build it together.
If you are angry about this strike, as you should be — then place you anger in the right direction. The blame for this strike lies solely with UUK and Janet Beer. Use the strike days to email her and let her know that you think the way that she is treating her staff is unacceptable. We would advise students not to cross the picket lines on strike days, and there will be students supporting the staff at the picket lines — so please come along.