In the next few weeks UCU will be balloting for industrial action over pensions and the Four Fights (pay, casualisation, equality, and workload). This is in response to the employers’ recent decision to impose unnecessary and swingeing cuts to your pension and the rampant decline in your working conditions.
You are invited to a branch meeting at 1pm on Wednesday 29th September to discuss how to win this dispute. The Zoom link was sent to all members’ emails on Tuesday.
The ballot will run from 18th October until 4th November. In order to win, a vote in favour of strike action on a turnout of over 50% of members at Queen Mary is needed. It is critical to organise an effective Get The Vote Out effort to secure the highest possible turnout. At the meeting, your representatives will provide an update on the state of the dispute, but most of the time will be devoted to discussing and planning how you can help to win the ballot.
Strike to Win
Winning ballots and disputes during the pandemic is achievable. This year, the University of Liverpool secured an overwhelming vote in favour of strike action on a 60% turnout. This has already forced their employer to reduce the number of proposed redundancies from 47 to 2, and the action is ongoing. Many students came out in support of staff. Elsewhere, the University of Chester secured an 80% turnout and forced their employers to back down completely.
5 Things You Can Do Now
Before the meeting next week, there are already things you can do to help win.
1. UPDATE Your Contact Information with UCU
When the ballot for industrial action opens, you will need to receive and return your vote by post. To make sure your ballot paper reaches the right place, visit My UCU online to check your details. You should also make sure that UCU has up to date information on where you work. If you don’t have a My UCU account you can easily create one here.
2. MODEL The Effect Of The Pension Cuts On Your Retirement and Share The Tool.
UCU has created a modeller to show what the effects of the pension cuts would be on your retirement income. It will give you and your colleagues a clear picture of how much is on the line in this dispute. A typical member of the USS scheme on a £42k lecturer’s salary, aged 37, will suffer a 35% loss to the guaranteed retirement benefits which they will build up over the rest of their career.
3. TALK To Your Colleagues, Especially Those Who Are Not Union Members
The threat of industrial action is more effective the more people who are union members and willing to vote to strike. People are often most willing to listen to people they already know and trust, and a conversation with a valued colleague can sometimes go a long way. If every member each speaks to five different people, you can quickly reach every member of staff. Joining UCU is quick and easy, and is free for post-graduate researchers who teach.
4. SIGN-UP As A Departmental Rep or Contact To Get Out The Vote
When it comes to getting out the vote, local organisation is key. It’s so important to have members who are willing to act as a local point of contact during a ballot. They can help check who has voted, organise meetings and conversations with colleagues in their area, and help update records and membership lists to monitor turnout. If you think you can help, you can sign up by emailing the Branch Chair at firstname.lastname@example.org.
5. DONATE To The UCU Fighting Fund and The Grassroots Legal Action Crowdfunder
For members on higher incomes or who may be on leave this year, donating is a great way to support your colleagues who are taking action. UCU operates a Fighting Fund which will be used to support members on low incomes during any industrial action. There is also a grassroots legal campaign to hold the pension scheme to account for their mismanagement. They have already raised £50,000 and will be using it to pursue rapid legal action. You can donate to their crowdfunder here.