On the 23rd January, major changes to the pension scheme (the USS) of Birkbeck College staff and university staff across the country was proposed. These changes have not been supported by staff. The main point of concern is university staff will no longer be given a guaranteed income after retirement and instead their pension will be subject to the unpredictable fluctuations of the stock market. Independent modelling of this scheme found that a new lecturer would, on average, be £9600 worse off each year.
Despite increased difficulties to enable for public strike action, 61 of the 68 universities affected could see escalating industrial action from February through March.
Birkbeck Students' Union is in support of this strike. Although this may be inconvenient for students in the short-term, the long-term benefits should not be understated. These pension cuts are likely to demoralise the workforce, and will discourage university staff to stay in higher education institutions. This will reduce the quality of the students' education.
Furthermore, students who aimed to become academics may be dissuaded, and postgraduate students who teach in their institution will be negatively impacted.
The Students' Union will continue to campaign for the improvement of the students' educational experience, and not for the profit margins of the university.
In support of the strike, Birkbeck Students' Union shall, in line with the NUS's (National Union of Students) statement:
- Call for the university employers to recognise the seriousness of the situation and agree to meaningful negotiations either directly with the union or via Acas.
- Encourage members to write to their institution head to complain about the impact the changes to the USS will have on their education.
- Have student officers present and in support of local demonstrative action during the strikes and to inform students about the strike who may have not been aware by other means.
Ryan, Sophia, Eli, Ezimma, Stephanie and Nick: Student Officer Team 2017/18