UCU: Call off the damaging and unnecessary strikes harming our education

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From next week lecturers at Reading University are walking out on a 4 WEEK STRIKE, meaning you’ll miss important lectures and teaching. They are using students as pawns by engaging in disproportionately disruptive action in response to necessary changes being made to their pensions. Sign our petition now to encourage the University and College Union (UCU) to call off this damaging strike and get back round the table with universities and pensions managers.  

See our FAQ’s below for more info on these strikes and how it will affect you: 


How will the strikes affect me?
The UCU (University and College Union) has called a 14 day strike and Reading University have been confirmed as participants. Lecturers will be walking out on the following dates: 

  • Week one - Thursday 22 and Friday 23 February
  • Week two - Monday 26, Tuesday 27 and Wednesday 28 February 
  • Week three - Monday 5, Tuesday 6, Wednesday 7 and Thursday 8 March
  •  Week four - Monday 12, Tuesday 13, Wednesday 14, Thursday 15 and Friday 16 March

In other words, that’s a lot of missed lectures and it could have a serious impact on your degree. This 14 day strike accounts for 20% of this term. Not all lecturers will strike, but it’s impossible to tell which lecturers are going on strike as the UCU has explicitly asked members NOT to tell the university if they are striking to maximise the disruption to students. 

 Why are academics striking?

Lecturers pensions are changing to bring the university sector in line with the majority of other employers. With low interest rates and long retirement periods due to the ageing population, the current pension schemes are simply not sustainable. That’s why most companies no longer offer the same gold plated schemes lecturers currently enjoy. In the university sector the pensions are managed for most universities (including Reading) by the USS (University Superannuation Scheme). This pension fund currently has a deficit of over £12bn. Therefore they have to do something about clearing this to ensure there is still money left to pay pensions in the future. That’s why these changes are being made. The UCU object to this and have therefore called the strike. 

Are they going to lose money?

SOME staff MIGHT lose money. Under the new schemes pension payouts will be subject to     investment performance so lecturers might actually do quite well out of it. You might have seen the UCU claiming lecturers will lose £200,000. Is this true? Maybe, but only for a limited number of the best paid professors. Research UCU commissioned suggested this so presumably this   assumed poor investment performance, the pensions could perform much better in reality. In the report the example that was affected to this extent was a professor on the top pay grade, that’s over £110,000 with significantly more than 10 years on a salary in excess of £69,000. So while they might lose some money, you don’t need to lose sleep about your lecturers being too                  impoverished in their retirement. Lecturers have also been claiming they are set to lose £10,000 as year. We can’t find anything in UCU’s own research that suggests this. 

My lectures will be rescheduled though, right? 

Um, nope. UCU have explicitly asked lecturers not to reschedule lectures, tutorials or any other teaching. They will also be commencing ASOS (Action short of strike) from the 22nd February, until such a time the UCU decide they’ve had enough, which could be quite a while. ASOS prevents staff from doing anything outside their contract, covering colleagues and rearranging missed lectures. 

Will my degree be affected? 

Quite possibly. During a 2006 UCU strike students were told they might not be able to graduate as a result. It’s almost certain that coursework marking will be severely delayed, and you’ll have to become quite good at teaching yourself. 

 Presumably the NUS is against this then?

 Well no. The NUS is a fundamentally left wing organisation and therefore love trade unions and a good old strike and has on this occasion chosen to put their political ideology ahead of what’s right for students.

 What can I do to stop this?

Sign our petition and demand the UCU stop these unnecessary and disproportionate strikes and engage constructively with UUK's consultation on the changes by putting forward workable alternative solutions to the USS deficit. You could also encourage your lecturers not to strike. UCU are a militant trade union who will be operating picket lines at the entrances to the university, making it difficult for lecturers to come in, even if they want to, so this will not be easy for them. If they do come in, make sure you thank your lecturers!

Reading Students Against Strikes is a campaign by Reading University Conservative Association. Find out more by visiting our website: www.ruconservative.com

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