This morning I visited the picket line at Goldsmiths to support UCU workers who are striking against changes to their pensions.
Universities UK plans to close the defined benefit portion of the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) and replace it with a defined contribution scheme. This is very concerning as I know it would significantly reduce the security of retirement income for academic staff in many UK universities and that further erosion of USS benefits could reduce universities’ ability to attract and retain staff in an increasingly competitive sector.
I understand that talks between Universities UK and the UCU resumed last week and I hope that a satisfactory outcome can be negotiated. Although the Government has dismissed intervening (viewing universities as autonomous institutions responsible for their own pension provision) I believe that it should step in to review the situation and urge Universities UK to work with University and College Union to find a better solution.
I have written to the Minister for Universities (Sam Gyimah) to outline my concerns and to urge the Government to act, as well as writing to the Warden of Goldsmiths.