A protest in support of strike staff. Photo: James Rob

Open letter: students support no vote on pensions offer

Britain
Education
Labour

Dear UCU members,

We are students who over the past month have witnessed the most extraordinary strike action the Higher Education sector has seen in years. We have stood with you on the picket lines because we understand that an attack on our staff is an attack on us: we see the struggle for fair pensions as part of the struggle against the marketisation of our universities, which is increasingly driving universities to behave like corporations, rather than the centres of knowledge and learning that they should be.

From the beginning of this dispute you consistently argued that ‘this is about more than pensions’; if this strike is won, students and staff will be in a much better position to roll back the marketisation of education, from an end to tuition fees, casualisation, the gender pay gap, and outsourcing, to the democratisation of our institutions. Together we have shown that #WeAreTheUniversity, that together workers and students run the show, and together if necessary we can shut it down: we have shaken higher education to the bone.

A different university is within our reach.  Now is the time to stretch our collective raised fist further and demand more

The recent four weeks of strike action have demonstrated the strength of student-staff solidarity, and the power of industrial action.

Thousands have joined picket lines and demonstrations, many have organised teach-outs putting up talks and events challenging the boundaries of our current curriculums, and we have witnessed the biggest wave of student occupations (with a total of 24 across the country) since the 2010 student movement. On the 13th of March, the rank and file stood up to the UCU leadership and declared “#NoCapitulation” when UUK attempted to end the strike through a compromising, bogus proposal which simply pledged to delay the removal of defined benefits.

You have received a ballot to vote on UUK’s most recent proposal. As it stands, this proposal is vague, offering few concrete guarantees. The USS pension scheme is in surplus, the deficit is fabricated, but this proposal could see UUK continuing to use the November valuation. We are disappointed that despite the majority of branches voting #ReviseAndResubmit, UCU leadership balloted this proposal. As #NoCapitulation demonstrated, a union is its grassroots members. While the proposal is a significant step forward from January, it is not the outcome you spent morning after morning shivering in the snow for.

We understand you have already lost 14 days of pay due to strike action, and we thank you for your sacrifice. Nevertheless we want to let you know that we continue to stand in full solidarity with you, and will continue lending our support if you reject this deal and go back to the picket lines after the holidays. We recognise that striking close to the exam period will put you under additional pressure, but students are conscious that UUK and university management is to blame for disruption.  This strike action has already made significant gains, and we fear accepting UUK’s proposal would undermine the reason why the strikes started in the first place.

It’s not just students on your side. Your strength has given inspiration to the entire labour movement. You were the first to defeat the Tories’ ballot threshold with resounding, national action. Together you have clocked almost half a million total strike days, more than the rest of the UK combined over the last two years. You’ve received international solidarity from West Virginia, Germany, Delhi, and beyond. Furthermore, sister unions UNISON and EIS have announced a national ballot on the USS issue, while at the University of London, the IWGB is coordinating the biggest ever strike of outsourced workers in UK higher education history to coincide with USS strikes.

With the momentum growing and growing, now is not the time to accept an ambiguous proposal. This strike has changed everything. A different university is within our reach.  Now is the time to stretch our collective raised fist further and demand more. We express our full solidarity with the rank-and-file agitating for a ‘No’ vote and pledge to stand firmly beside you should industrial action continue.

Signed,

Helena Navarrete Plana

Warwick For Free Education

Arthur Taylor

King's College London

Ava Matheis

SOAS

Ky Andrea

Warwick For Free Education/ University of Warwick

Monty Shield

Alliance for Workers' Liberty

Charlea Murphy

The University of Sheffield

Stan Laight

Sheffield Marxist Society

Jake Roberts

University of Surrey

Elliott O'Rourke

University of Sheffield

Jacob D Allen

University of Surrey

Alison Worden

Surrey University

Chris Townsend

The Free University of Sheffield

Jack Kershaw

UCL

Dominique Hua

UCL

Josh Chown

University of Surrey/Surrey Labour Students

Malcolm Lowe

University of Warwick

Dora Dimitrova

UCL Marxist Society

Alicia Shearsby

The University of Warwick/Warwick for Free Education

Stuart McMillan

Sheffield SU Education Officer, NCAFC NC

Rowan Davis

Oxford

Charlie Porter

Free University of Sheffield

Richard Somervail

UCL

Anika Heckwolf

University of Warwick

Thalia Cox

Warwick For Free Education

Malgosia Haman

The Free University of Sheffield

Jerome Cox-Strong

University of Reading

Ceri Bailey

Cardiff University

Cate Schofield

Cardiff University

Tassaneeya Robinson

Cardiff University

Siobhan Owen

University of Exeter

Alexander Lloyd

University of Sheffield

Felicity Adams

Keele University

Amin Lmoh

University of Warwick student staff solidarity

Hemal Gangani

University of Bath

Ana Oppenheim

NUS NEC

Patricia McManus

University of Brighton

Sam Burgum

University of Sheffield

David B

Warwick

Lauren Kennedy

De Montfort University

Andrea Aakre

#OccupyTheOctagon (QMUL)

Lughaidh Scully

Aberdeen Students Support the Strike / Aberdeen Student Left

Martin Leonard

University of York

Edward Williamson

Free University of Sheffield

Julie Saumagne

University of Warwick

Vijay Jackson

USS Occupation Edinburgh

Harry Vinall-Smeeth

Oxford

Aristidis Shukuroglou

University of Reading Marxist Society

George Briley

University of London, Goldsmiths

Emil-Dorian McHale

University of Reading Marxist Society

Jacob Elliman

University of Reading Marxist Society

Catherine Joanne McClane

University of Reading Marxist Society

Matthew Lee

UCL / UCL Cut The Rent / UCL Fund Our Mental Health Services / UoL Justice for Workers / UCL Free Education

Georgina Ryan

The Free University of Sheffield

Nick McAlpin

Exeter Students 4 UCU Strikes

Tyrone Falls

University of Bristol

Cam Galloway

The Free University of Sheffield

Hanin Abou Salem

Cardiff University

Mohammed Bux

University of Sheffield

Samar

Bristol University

Sam Walker

Manchester Plan C

Richard Somervail

UCL

Alice Wright

KCL

Dina Rider

Queen Mary University of London

Martin Young

QMUL

Robin Boardman

University of Bristol

Nathan Wiliams

University of Manchester/Save our Staff Manchester campaign

Ramona Kuh

Queen Mary University

Jasmin Bath

QMUL

Laura Barroso

SOAS

Prarthana Krishnan

Bristol Student-Staff Solidarity Group

Lily Baker

Queen Mary University London

Clementine

Bath Uni / Bath Students Against Fees and Cuts

Anna Klieber

University of Bristol/ Bristol Student Staff Solidarity Group

Marlowe MacDonald

University of Sheffield

Abby King

Royal Holloway

Luke Tyers

University of Bristol/Bristol Student-Staff Solidarity Group

Kerry Lambeth

QMUL

Filippo Iorillo

Queen Mary University of London

Molly Wilson

University of Warwick

Conor Shail

University of Bristol

Jack Shaw

Warwick Marxists

Lewis Williams

QMUL/Occupy the Octagon

Diego Millán Berdasco

Queen Mary University of London

Ursula Shaw

Cambridge

Pascal Salzbrenner

Marxist Society, King's College London

Ian Cameron

The Open University

Alexander Simpson

Occupy Surrey 2018

Alexander Wilkinson

QMUL

Kendra Howard

Queen Mary University of London

Lois Davies

Bristol University/ BSSSG

Aiysha N Soddie

Queen Mary, University of London

Juvan Gowreeswaran

Marxist Student Federation (Warwick branch)

Paulina

Cardiff University

James Roberts

Free University of Sheffield

Tom Keene

Goldsmiths University of London

Ted Lavis Coward

Durham University

David Bullock

Durham University/NCAFC

Ellen Adamson

Queen Mary University of London

Eva Marcela Ponce de León Marquina

Institute of Education (UCL)

Josh Berlyne

Free University of Sheffield

Jessica

Bath students Against Fees and Cuts

Archie Mellor

BSAFC

Bonnie Carter

Bristol university

Piers Eaton

Durham Student-Staff Solidarity

Ada Wordsworth

UCL

Bradley Allsop

University of Lincoln student/UCU member

Jazmine Bourke

Durham University

Jonathan Murden

Durham University/Durham Left Activists

Zeid Truscott

Bath Students Against Fees and Cuts

Beth Douglas

NUS LGBT+

Lewis Jarrad

UCL

Rafaelle Benichou

Warwick University

Lewis Macleod

Aberdeen Students Support the Strike / Aberdeen SA

Aysha Khatun

University of Warwick

Chris Knutsen

Bath Students Against Fees and Cuts

Beckie Rutherford

University of Warwick

Jemima Hindmarch

QMUL

Kierin Offlands

Lewisham Young Labour

Niamh Ashton

University of Leicester

Rebecca Harrington

Oxford Brookes Student Union

Hansika Jethnani

Arts SU

Del Pickup

University of Sheffield

Nadia Sayed

Queen Mary Student + QM Socialist Worker Student Society

Mie Astrup Jensen

Aberdeen Students Support the Strike

Dan Davison

University of Cambridge

XingJian Li

SOAS

Ash Edwards

Queen Mary University of London

Siôn Davies

QMUL / #OccupyTheOctagon

Lisa Taylor

King's College London

Simona Alexandra

King's College London

Cecy Marden

University of Sheffield

Mark Crawford

Students' Union UCL

Rebecca Larney

KCL

Harper Stephens

The Free University of Sheffield

Nicolás Navarro Padrón

SOAS // SOAS Marxist Society

Thomas Evans

King's College London

Konstantina Melina Lourou Terzaki

King's College London

Savannah Whaley

KCL

Sam Walton

University of Reading

Joe Attard

King's College London

Sainab Nuh

King's College London

Harvi Chera

University College London

Yasmin Huleileh

Warwick University

Ramona Sharples

King's College London Occupation

Jacob Shackleton

Warwick University

Thushan Rajendram

King's College London

Adam S. Jarvis

Warwick University

Tom Bolitho

King's College London

Sean Benstead

Leeds Independent Socialists

Amy Norris

King's College London

Megan Beech

University of Cambridge

George Craddock

Queen Mary Labour Society

Declan Burns

University of Nottingham

Nick Oung

UCL/Socialist Appeal

Sarah Combes

King's College London

Khaled Eissa

Kings College

Jennifer Jackson

King's College London

Elizabeth Collins

University of Southampton

Aaron Kwadwo Kyereh-Mireku

University of Warwick/Warwick Marxists

Polly Creed

University College London/ Power Play Activists

Mike Shaw

Edinburgh

Sofia Doyle

Bristol Staff Student Solidarity

Eve Bent

Salford University

Thea Smith

University of Bath

Eleanor Webb

University of Warwick

Harriet Carroll

University of Bath

Jordan Smith

QM Young Greens

Sam Bough

University of Kent - Canterbury

Thahmina Begum

Queen Mary University

Chelsea Thompson

University of Aberdeen

Jill L Crawford

UEA

Kelli Conley

University of Edinburgh

Ellinore Folkesson

Glasgow University Student Solidarity

Matthias Bryson

University of Edinburgh

Joanna Smith

University of Edinburgh

Grace

University of Edinburgh

Matthew Lee

UCL / UCL Cut The Rent / UCL Fund Our Mental Health Services / UCL Free Education / UoL Justice for Workers

Katherine Butterfield

Queen Mary university

Lorenzo Feltrin

University of Warwick

Amethyst Di Tieri

University of Edinburgh

Viktor Kardell

Glasgow University

Savannah Wood

University of Edinburgh

Alice Galatola

Newcastle University

Rory Kent

Cambridge Defend Education

Sean Currie

University of Strathclyde

Carlus Hudson

University of Portsmouth

Euan Ferguson

University of Edinburgh

Emily Donnelly

University of Edinburgh

Molly

University of Keele

Oresta Muckute

University of Reading

Matthew Gibson

Durham University

Neve Ovenden

Durham Student-Staff Solidarity

Elaena Elizabeth Shipp

Bangor University and Gwyrddion Ifanc Bangor Young Greens

James Crosse

Queen Mary University of London

Bohdan Starosta

Strathclyde Students Support the Strike

Chelsea Lowdon

Durham University/ Durham Student-Staff Solidarity

Carolin Zieringer

Goldsmiths

Artur Wilk

Leicester Student Action

Perry MEsney

Cardiff University

Anne Løddesøl

University of Edinburgh

Jamie

Newcastle Student-Staff Solidarity

Dylan Woodward

Bristol Uni

Niamh Sherlock

Leicester Student Action

Jess Taylor Weisser

Newcastle University

Ben Margolis

Cambridge/CDE

José Figueira

Newcastle University

Kayleigh Colbourn

Royal Holloway University of London

Anthony Sanderson

UEA

Matthew Sears

Durham University

Alexander Pool

Durham

Gwilym Evans

University of Sheffield

Eleanor Cawte

Cambridge University

Eleri Fowler

University of Edinburgh

Jennie Layden

Newcastle University

Holly Carter-Rich

University of Manchester

Isabel del Pilar Arce Zelada

Students Support the Strike Aberdeen

Emily Moore

University of Sussex

Doha Abdelgawad

Department of Political Science and International Relations.

Jack Mansell

Sydney University Education Action Group

Rory McKinley

Durham University

Amelia Talbot

Uni of Leicester

Abi Cooper

Durham University

Annie Jones

University of Manchester/UCU/PhD Student

Woody Phillips-Smith

University of Warwick

Howard Chae

University of Cambridge

Niamh MacPhail

University of Glasgow

William Campbell

University of aberdeen

Joseph Jorgensen

University of Manchester

Talia Reed

Bangor University

Pablo Charro de la Fuente

Business School

Herbie Hyndley

University of Birmingham

Mark Lawrence

Durham

Nomar Syking

Falmouth University

Tihana Vlaisavljevic

Queens University Belfast

Matthew Vaughan

University of Liverpool

Declan McLean

University of Strathclyde/Strathclyde University Labour Club

Lucy

University of Hull

Sara Pernille Jensen

University of Bristol

Scott Seton

University of Essex

Alex Kumar

Oxford SU

Scott lumsden

University of Glasgow

Conor Muller

University of York / University of York Labour

Aleph Ross

University of Cambridge

Ayse

Cardiff University

Declan Downey

The Free University of Sheffield

Nickolas Tang

King's College London

Finn Weldin

University of Kent

Joseph Evans

University of Cambridge

Sophie Neibig

SOS Manchester / Uni of Manchester

Priyanka Moorjani

KCL

Warren Gratton

University of Surrey

Alexandra Briggs

University of Edinburgh

Rachel

Save Our Staff MCR

Eleonora Colli

King's College London

Adam Jones

UCL

Heather McKnight

University of Sussex

Guy Forsyth

Durham Student-Staff Solidarity Group

Mr J H Lees

Leicester university

Amelia

Newcastle

Susie Gray

Cardiff University

Yvonni Gkergkes

University of Edinburgh

Kathryn Blagg

University of Sheffield

Charmaine Mandivenga

Queen Mary

Danielle Wright

University of Sheffield

Zack Murrell-Dowson

Bristol University/ Bristol Student Staff Solidarity Group

Max Riley

University of Reading Students Union

George Bunn

University of Sheffield

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