Pension strike

Anyone watching the news yesterday will have seen the unusual sight of a substantial number of university lecturers on strike. The proposal to change the USS pension scheme from a decent one (despite the ravages of recent years) into a defined contribution scheme, subject to the exigencies of markets and the greedy attentions of incompetent fund managers, has finally galvanised academics to action. Fortunately, at least for the time being, Kingston’s scheme, the TPS, is not affected. One wonders how we might react to such an attack on our pensions given the willingness of so many KU staff to tolerate the behaviour of our aggressive management with little complaint. If the TPS were subject to such hostile proposals we could at least count on the school teachers, always more prepared to fight than lecturers, to resist.

The excuses for undermining university pensions are the usual neoliberal claptrap: too expensive and too generous. Which of course means that VCs and their management cronies want to cut staff incomes while increasing theirs as fast as they can. The notion of a pension deficit has been wheeled out many times since the financial crisis ten years ago. Low interest rates, instigated by the Bank of England to protect asset prices, as it has admitted, lead automatically to high deficits. Now that interest rates are beginning to rise, these deficits will gradually fall. Don’t expect the employers to take any notice of that. They won’t be content unless our pay continues to fall in real terms, and our deferred pay (pension) joins the worst examples in the private sector.

So for now be glad we are not in this position. But don’t count your chickens. Prepare to fight or go under.

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3 Responses to Pension strike

  1. Near By Jim says:

    I totally support the UCU strike. I have contributed both to USS and TPS. The outcome of the USS strike, i am sure will effect what happens to the TPS in the futurel.

    Ok, now thoughts about the Kingston UCU reps? I am not sure what to think of Nick Freestone I know he does not represent junior staff much and he leaves them to fight senior management by themselves. Perhaps he should be replaced….

    • Dissenter says:

      It’s important to bear in mind that the strength of the Union is dependent on good support from the members. Kingston UCU support is not as strong as it could be. The UCU officers in our view do their best in a difficult situation.

    • Near By Jim says:

      I’d have to partially agree. I am sure the KU UCU staff are in a difficult position, but i know they have dismissed reports of bullying and requests for help by junior staff, so these staff are left high and dry. They are vulnerable and lack experience and guidance, and then they are ignored by Nick Freestone. I know multiple staff members who no longer bother going to KU UCU, so no wonder support is low for KU UCU.

      The way to combat this is for Nick not to turn people away. So, you have aggressive management, bullying academics AND a union chair who dismisses the members he is supposed to represent.

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