At the moment, the University and College Union (UCU) organizes a strike to fight against the new pension plans. A majority of UK academic institutions are taking part in this strike. For more information and latest updates about the strike:
This issue is also relevant for the broader slow science movement, as it is part of the marketization of universities. To give only one but very pertinent example: final pensions would depend on how the stock market performs, not on contributions.
As one of the strikers puts it:
“The real problem behind pensions is this: Universities have borrowed billions in bonds to spend on fancy new buildings – they are becoming property developers. These bonds are then traded on the financial markets so that the more they are ‘de-risked’ the more they are worth. De-Risking the pension to the extent that its modelled on all universities going bust simultaneously isn’t a realistic expectation, but it is a theoretical risk that when transferred to individual academics increases the bond’s value. We are losing our pension security to make more money for bankers in other words.”
HOW CAN YOU HELP?
- You can tweet your messages of support to @UCU (union nationally) or to the local initiatives of different universities.
- Donate to the fighting fund of UCU: there are lots of precarious, early career academics, and single parents on strike who will need financial support for the wages they are losing. https://www.ucu.org.uk/fightingfund
- The Southampton University, in the midst of the strike, has received an email to make sure to ‘prioritize the partner organisations of Southampton University as part of the Internationalisation Strategy’, of which KU Leuven is apparently the number 2 partner. Therefore we want to use this internationalization strategy to show our solidarity with our colleagues. We would like to collect pictures of you showing a card/paper with (something like) “I support my colleagues in the UCU-strike @ Southampton University [name, university]”. This will only take 5 minutes of your time, but it would be really great if we can collect a big number of pictures. They will be shown on the website of those who strike in Southampton. Of course, scholars from KU Leuven are especially encouraged, but a broad support from all colleagues is highly appreciated. You can send your picture to Valerie, and they will be sent collectively to the UCU strikers @ Southampton.
- Boycott the institutions from this list, as they engage in punitive behaviour during and between strike days
- All universities could benefit from your support, so please reach out to any of your colleagues on strike at the moment and ask how you can help them. We can post the actions on our website or help circulate through other means.