September 2, 2021
From Socialist Worker (UK)

UCU union members on the picket line in Goldsmiths, south London, in 2020

UCU union members on the picket line at Goldsmiths, south London, in 2020 (Pic: Guy Smallman)

University workers say industrial action is “inevitable” after bosses’ decided to push ahead with swingeing cuts to their pensions.

The bosses’ body, Universities UK (UUK), wants to slash employer contributions to the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS).

Some workers would face up to a 35 percent cut to their pensions.

This is the latest in a series of repeated attacks on the USS scheme. UCU union members staged huge strikes in response in 2018 and 2020.

Carlo Morelli, UCU Dundee university branch co-chair, told Socialist Worker he thinks members are ready to strike again. “Covid-19 caused strikes to be called off last year,” he said.

“More than a year of the pandemic has shown just how much workers are relied on, and that universities don’t run without a massive effort. 

“Workers have really been abused, workload is through the roof and all of these pressures are becoming intolerable. 

“Many will also be angry that university bosses are pushing through redundancies and restructuring. 

“And they are doing all of this at a time when universities—despite being very profitable at the moment—are driving down pay.”


UCU members will decide where next at an emergency higher education conference next Thursday, 9 September. 

Carlo added, “We could be looking at balloting members at the start of the first term which means we could be on strike by the end of the year. The implementation of the new scheme will be next April.

“We can’t strike for a few days this time—we have to strike until we beat the attack. 

“If we don’t go ahead with industrial action and strikes, the outcome will be that we lose our pensions. It’s that simple.”

Heavy workloads, redundancies and restructuring are already pushing university workers closer to wanting to take action. 

This feeling of wider discontent with how universities are run for profit should be used to build a struggle to stop all the bosses’ attacks. And already many in the union are galvanised by strikes at places such as Liverpool university. 

There need to be hard-hitting and coordinated strikes.