In the run up to the November 30 pensions strike, University and College Union members at 67 pre-92 universities are taking industrial action short of a strike, which could escalate into a marking and assessment boycott. Here Pat Smith, a student and UCU activist at Hull University, explains why students should support them.
Plus model motion for SUs, anti-cuts groups etc.
For more on the UCU campaign see here.
By Pat Smith, Hull University UCU and Hull Students Against Fees and Cuts activist
Education as we know it is under one of the biggest attacks this country has ever seen. Students are facing crippling debt in order to be educated, courses and departments are closing, and the coalition is planning privatise our higher education. But this is only one part of the picture.
Our lecturers and university staff are expected to work an average of 55 hours week and perform many duties that are beyond their contractual duties in order to keep the university running. They do this because they want their students to succeed, students are important to them, and they know the value of education. University staff understand that the cuts to the USS are part of the coalition’s plan to destroy education.
In UCU meetings up and down the country members have been discussing the best strategy to win their dispute and fight the privatisation of education; they want maximum disruption to management with minimal disruption to students. It is important that we, as students, support them in their struggle.
Workers and students acting together have the power to stop the coalition and management from making these changes.
It is important to link our struggles, to be on each other’s picket lines and demonstrations. That is the only way to win.
Model motion (adapted from motion passed by Edinburgh University Students’ Association). Please pass this through your student union, anti-cuts group etc.
SUPPORT OUR LECTURERS!
1) That the recent Universities and Colleges Union (UCU) ballots both at the [Insert University] and UK-wide revealed 96%  were against changes to the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS), around 80%  voted for sustained action short of a strike, and around 60%  voted for strike action. This action will start on October 10th, with strikes to occur on November 30th and beyond.
2) That the proposed new pension arrangement could cost current lecturers £130,000  and new lecturers £369,000  over the course of their retirement.
3) That action short of a strike is likely to involve working-to-rule and working-to-contract , but could also involve setting exams but refusing to mark them, and potentially a full assessment boycott.
4) That the UCU have frequently supported local and national student demonstrations and campaigns such as Demolition 2010  and Fund Our Future 2010  to name a few.
1) That pensions are deferred pay, not an added benefit of employment.
2) That the proposed new pension arrangements will affect the quality of staff attracted to the academic professions.
3) That although industrial action is likely to affect students in the short term, in fighting for their pensions the UCU is fighting for the long-term health of a profession of which students are the primary beneficiaries. Students therefore have a large stake in this dispute.
4) That the more academics have the support of students in the early stages of industrial action, the less likely it is that they will be forced to take the last resort of boycotting assessment.
5) That the threat to the working conditions of academic staff is part of a wider picture of cuts to education funding.
We therefore resolve:
1) To give full support to UCU on expected industrial action related to pensions.
2) To lobby the University so that in any working-to-rule action, research and pastoral support are prioritised over research and other administrative tasks.
3) To inform its members about the pensions dispute and encourage them to support academic staff involved in that dispute.
4) To encourage university staff to join their relevant union and participate
5) To inform its members, particularly postgraduate members, about membership of trades unions such as UCU.
6) To lobby the National Union of Students to support the UCU nationally in this industrial action.
7) To liaise with local UCU branches to discuss joint student/worker