Sunday Update: Last Chance to Save Our Pensions

Some grim news over the weekend: UUK is wrapping up its consultation with employers, and the signs aren’t good. They’re claiming that employers have chosen to reject UCU’s proposals on USS’s future. Rather than increasing their contributions by 3.8%, on a purely temporary basis, our employers are choosing to make us shoulder a raft of unnecessary cuts.

This could have been a chance to draw a line under this dispute, to return to the consensus that unions and employers had when the 2020 valuation was first revealed. Instead, employers are unable to countenance even a temporary uplift in the amount they pay into our pensions. Even Stephen Toope, who was loudly critical of the valuation, has suddenly gone quiet, with Cambridge seemingly among the universities planning to reject the union’s compromise

But all is not lost. The next meeting of the USS JNC is this Tuesday, 22 February. That’s when the cuts our employers are desperate to push through will be accepted or rejected. And that means we’ve got until Tuesday to fight back. Our pickets need to be twice as big as last week, our voices need to be twice as loud, if we’re going to force our employers to concede. Time is running out, but we can still win this fight.

Here’s how our fight-back tomorrow will look:

8.30: Pickets start as usual, at Sidgwick, Downing, Old Schools, and Education sites

9.30: University Council is scheduled to meet tomorrow at Cambridge University Press and Assessment – aka the Triangle building – on Hills Road (map here). So we’ll be there in force to meet them, and to make some noise outside their meeting. 

Join us in walking down from the pickets at 8.45, or make your way straight there. Council are the ones who’ll be signing away our pensions, and we can’t let them get away with it!

12.00: Rally outside Great St Mary’s, before…

12.30: BRANCH MEETING – hybrid event, online and in person at Great St Mary’s. We’ve got two motions to discuss, on punitive deductions for ASOS and next steps in the ongoing disputes, which you’ll find here and here, along with an agenda here. To join us online, use this link:

15.00: TEACH-OUT: Justice4CollegeSupervisors, ‘Columbia Grad Strikes: How to Organize Grad Students & Win!’, online (register here)

16.00: TEACH-OUT: Beginners’ Guide to Pensions, online (register here)

18.00: Launch of End Everyday Racism campaign – a two-week campaign for staff and students to share their experiences of racism in Cambridge, as part of our Four Fights battle for equality. For more information, including details of tomorrow’s online launch, see here.

And for a longer read this evening, here’s Áine, a research associate in Psychology, on why she’s on strike. You can find the full text here, but below is a short excerpt:

It might be hard to act differently to my colleagues, but being on the picket line is uplifting. I’m only being half-facetious when I call it an excellent networking opportunity. I get to meet so many like-minded, generous people who believe in solidarity and in the power of collective action (and in the necessity of their participation for it to work!). I’ve also had some great chats with members of the public who sympathize with and support our struggle, knowing that an attack on one sector is an attack on all. I would love to see more of my colleagues participating visibly in the strike, and to see more messages of support. There is power in numbers, and there is power in a union.

See you on the pickets!