Monday Update: Cambridge Rejects UCU Proposals

So it’s official: this morning, on the advice of senior management, University Council voted to reject the UCU proposals that would have resolved the USS dispute. This was a chance to save staff from an average of 35% cuts to their pensions. This was a chance for the University to live up to its fine words in previous statements, and to work together with UCU in good faith. They chose not to. 

On Friday, the Vice Chancellor wrote to us justifying his position. He claimed the UUK proposal for drastic cuts was the ‘only viable option’ – without ever mentioning the UCU proposals, which even the USS trustee conceded was viable. And he assured us he’d be calling for a ‘redesigned scheme’ to be implemented within 12-18 months – without committing to the new valuation we desperately need, and without assuring us our benefits would be restored.

The fight isn’t over yet. Tomorrow, the Joint Negotiating Committee (JNC) will be meeting to have the final say on UUK’s proposed cuts. So here in Cambridge and across the UK, we’ll have to turn out in force – more determined, and in greater numbers, than ever before.

Here’s what you can do to make our action tomorrow as strong as possible:

  • Sign up to the pickets: at Sidgwick, Downing, Old Schools, and Education, beginning at 8.30. You can find the sign-up link in the daily branch email.
  • Make sure you tell your friends and colleagues you’ll be at the pickets, and encourage them to come along. For a how-to toolkit, click here. It only takes 5 minutes, and could make all the difference!
  • Come to our rally for PAY AND PENSION JUSTICE: 12.00 tomorrow outside Great St Mary’s. To cap off this round of action, we’re joining with the Cambridge SU and the Open University UCU, with speakers from other trade unions in and outside Cambridge.
  • Check out our programme of teach-outs and events:
    • 11.00: ‘Lessons from the 1934 Teamsters Strike’, Downing picket-line
    • 19.00: End Everyday Racism x Cambridge SU: Complaints and Co-Listening Session (students only), Sidney Sussex JCR
  • Regent House members: sign this Grace on USS to put pressure on the University and spread the word to non-members.

Meanwhile, for a longer read at the end of the day, you can read accounts by Priya and Áine about why they’re on strike. And for reflections on today’s action outside the Council meeting, take a look at Eleanor‘s blogpost, ‘On Strike and On Striking’. You can find the whole piece here, but here’s an excerpt below:

To say we’re disappointed is both an understatement, and somehow untrue – as there was a certain inevitability about it. There is a strong feeling that USS and UUK don’t *want* to find a position which makes the pension scheme work, they want to wind it down and come up with something with far less risk to *them* instead, regardless of whether it’s what’s best for staff, or even for the university itself, or for the education sector as a whole.