Last week, the SU Exec Team met with the Manchester University and College Union (UCU, the union representing 110,000 lecturers and other university staff around the country) about the current dispute around pension scheme changes, and the subsequent UCU ballot whereby strike action was agreed by 88% of voting members.
The new changes mean that university staff pensions will go from being guaranteed pension benefits to depending on investments, and will result in average member lecturer losing £10,000 a year in their retirement.
Over 60 universities including Manchester will be facing 2, 3, 4 and 5-day strikes in February and March over this dispute. These dates will be:
Thurs 22nd Feb, Fri 23rd Feb,
Mon 26th – Weds 28th Feb,
Mon 5th – Thurs 8th March and
Mon 12th – Fri 16th March.
Your Exec Team has also written to the University of Manchester’s Leadership Team urging them to work to find a solution to the current situation, and to revisit further options with all parties.
In line with SU Senate Policy, the SU is mandated to support striking staff in whatever action they choose to take against attacks on their jobs or working conditions.
The student experience will be negatively affected by the new pension proposals in two ways: by how the new proposals will negatively impact PGR students – both those who are on the current pension scheme and those who aspire to go into academia in the future – and by dissuading new, excellent teachers from coming to Manchester. Recruiting quality employees at the University is crucial for the student experience, but universities with unfavourable pension schemes and unhappy, side-lined staff will not attract the best candidates, or their current staff will leave, and students will suffer as a result.
To avoid all these impacts, we compel the University to speak out and appeal to all parties to revisit further options for pension schemes proposals and to reengage UCU in negotiations.
We recognise that strike action will also negatively affect students' learning, as they will effectively lose 3 weeks of teaching that they have paid for in tuition fees. If you are worried about your education being affected by the strikes, email the Vice Chancellor firstname.lastname@example.org
Library staff are mainly on other pension schemes so the Library study spaces will still be available.
On the 22nd of Feb there will be an event in Club Academy from 10.30am about the strikes. You can come for a coffee and chat to members of staff who are striking.
What is a strike?
Strikes are when employees stop working to protest and try to put pressure on employers.
What is a picket line?
The picket line is a symbolic boundary set by strikers (like the entrance of a building). If you want to show UCU support, you can demonstrate solidarity by not crossing the picket line as well.
Save Our Staff Manchester are holding an event in Academy 3 on the 21st Feb at 7pm https://www.facebook.com/events/480989045631989/
UCU has a video explaining the strikes in more detail https://www.ucu.org.uk/article/9309/Strike-message-to-students
This is the joint statement from the National Union of Students and the UCU https://www.ucu.org.uk/article/9248/National-Union-of-Students-message-of-support-to-staff-ahead-of-USS-pension-strikes