Pensions

Unis out from 25 November

Published on: Wed, 20/11/2019 - 13:02
Author

Dan Davison

Members of the University and College Union (UCU), the national union for academic staff in the UK, are set to strike at 60 universities for eight days between 25 November and 4 December 2019.

This follows a highly successful pair of strike ballots among UCU members in higher education: one on pensions, the other on pay, equality, casualisation, and workloads.

The pensions strike continues the long-running dispute over proposed cuts to the United Superannuation Scheme (USS), the main pension plan in the “pre-92” universities.

The pay dispute affects both the “pre-92” and “post-92” universities

Strikes at Virgin, West Midlands, South Western Railway

Published on: Wed, 06/11/2019 - 07:39
Author

Ollie Moore and Jay Dawkey

Rail union RMT has called strikes on Virgin Trains, West Midlands Trains, and South Western Railway (SWR).

On the latter, the union has named a calendar of strikes throughout November and December, which will see walkouts on 16, 23, and 30 November, and 7, 14, 21, and 28 December. West Midlands Trains is the latest Train Operating Company to see its workers plan industrial action over the imposition of Driver Only Operation (DOO).

On Virgin Trains, train managers, a grade of customer-facing train crew, on the West Coast franchise will strike on 19 November to demand the reinstatement of an

RATP

French metro workers strike

Published on: Mon, 16/09/2019 - 13:57

This report on the Paris metro workers’ strike appeared in the newspaper of the New Anticapitalist Party (NPA) on 18 September and was translated from the French by Luke Neal.

A strike on RATP (the Paris metro) has got the the ball rolling in the fight against pension reforms in France. After 12 years of lethargy - at least on the surface - the strike has made a smashing comeback in Parisian transport: 100% of strikers on the metro, 60% on buses and in maintenance workshops. The capital was paralysed on Friday 13 September. Well dug, you old mole!

Two days earlier, the traffic forecasts announced by the management had had the effect of a bomb, triggering the media comedy: RATP agents would be privileged, retiring on average with 3700 euros!

“3700 euros? I earn 2000 euros by working staggered hours and public holidays with work periods of 6 days in a row!” corrects a striking driver interviewed during the rally in front of the company headquarters. “Retirement at age 50? A legend. Many leave at 58. Not to mention the stories of the reductions, ” confirms another.

The work regime is no longer so special, except for the lower starting age. Leaving early, but with what? Since the contribution period is the same as for all employees, the reduction works to penalise earlier retirement through a lower pension for the same contribution. The pension is calculated over the last 6 months – a ‘speciality’ that still concerns more than 5.5 million civil servants.

“Isn't it fair, the six-month calculation? But everyone should have the last six months!” “If they want to make a unique retirement, let them do it to those at the top: they can lower their own benefits. Working? Alright, but not to death!” These are the words of strikers, who had only one thing in mind on Friday 13: what further action should the movement take?

Strikers said: “It is up to the base to decide what to do next. I agree to be led, but the unions must not sign anything without consulting us.”

“In 2007 we felt betrayed by the unions. I am a CGT union member but I am still bitter. We want our decisions to be taken up. Anyway, we're going to converge [struggles]. In 1995, we were converging – that’s what made us strong. There's no secret, we can't fight off the pension reforms alone.”

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Industrial news in brief

Published on: Wed, 11/09/2019 - 07:39
Author

Ollie Moore, Jay Dawkey, Cath Fletcher and David Pendletone

UCU ballot opens

University staff belonging to UCU are being balloted for strike action this autumn over pay equality, job security, workload and pay deflation.

Working conditions in higher education have been deteriorating. The gender pay gap is over 15%; over 100,000 staff across the sector are on fixed-term contracts; academic staff work over 50 hours in a typical week; and in the past ten years pay has declined by 20% in real terms.

In 2018 an impressive strike forced pre-92 universities to back down on massive pension cuts, but since then employers have refused to compromise and now they

Industrial news in brief

Published on: Wed, 03/07/2019 - 07:52
Author

Ollie Moore

Tube workers fight job cuts

Tube workers are currently voting in an industrial action ballot, as the RMT union pushes back against job cuts proposed as part of the so-called “Transformation” process.

Nearly 2,000 workers are being balloted, including workers in engineering, signals, electrical, track, the London Underground Control Centre, and the Emergency Response Unit. “Transformation”, a sweeping restructure and job cuts plan, has already led to admin workers seeing their numbers slashed.

The current phase of the plan includes the outsourcing of waste collection workers who are currently

Fat cat college threatens to sink pension scheme

Published on: Thu, 20/06/2019 - 08:35

Trinity College, the richest college at the University of Cambridge (net worth £1.5bn), recently took the decision to remove itself from the USS pension agreement — the same agreement that saw 2018’s mass industrial action on dozens of university campuses.

This verdict, taken based on flawed financial grounds and with disregard to the wider education sector, puts at greater risk the pensions of over 400,000 university workers across the UK, and is already leading other universities to re-consider their long-term commitment to the scheme.

University and College Union members in Cambridge

Industrial news in brief

Published on: Wed, 24/10/2018 - 12:04
Author

Ann Field

GMB and Unison picket lines covered Glasgow on Tuesday 23 and Wednesday 24 October in a two-day strike by City Council employees.

A lunchtime demonstration on the first day of the strike also saw four thousand people march through Glasgow to a rally in front of the City Chambers.

It was the biggest strike for equal pay in British history. The target was years of pay discrimination against City Council women employees, resulting from the Workforce Pay and Benefits Review (WPBR) which was introduced and defended by successive Labour administrations

The then Labour-controlled Council rejected

Falling off a pensions cliff

Published on: Wed, 10/10/2018 - 10:12
Author

Colin Foster

Protests are growing among women now in their early 60s who find their state pension age receding fast as they get older.

Although Britain’s first old age pensions, from 1908, were payable only over 70 years old, for many decades after Labour’s welfare-state reforms from 1945 the pension age seemed fixed at 65 for men and 60 for women.

With more working-class people living longer, the Thatcher and Major Tory governments started the axe. From 1995 the law was changed. Blair and Brown let the Tory changes proceed, and then in 2011 Cameron made them markedly worse.
In the supposed name of

USS strike ballot: Vote No!

Published on: Tue, 10/04/2018 - 20:09
Author

a UCU member

University and College Union members are voting on a deal that would see strikes in over sixty universities called off in return for an independent review of pension provision. Voting ends on 16 April.

Fourteen days of strike action in February and March forced university bosses UUK to ditch a plan to end guaranteed pensions. But now strikers are being asked to put their trust in a process that may produce nothing better.

Back in March, employers offered a transitional three-year deal — better than their starting point but still a huge cut — which was forcefully rejected with the slogan ‘No

Revolt in the degree factory

Published on: Wed, 14/03/2018 - 11:55
Author

A UCU member

On Monday 12 March Universities UK and the University and Colleges Union (UCU) announced they had reached an ″agreement″ at ACAS in the ongoing dispute over the USS pension scheme.

As details of the ″deal″ came to light UCU members across the country were at first confused as to why the UCU would have agreed such a deal, and then angry.

Ten days of strikes had forced employers first into negotiations, then into making an offer. But the offer was a bad one. Pension contributions would go up to 8.7% from 8%; the accrual rate would go down to 1/85 salary a year from 1/75, and pensions would only

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