Hands off lecturers’ pensions

A decent pension for all workers is a right, not a privilege.

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All workers should have a decent pension to support them in their retirement years, and university lecturers are no exception. This should be demanded as a right, not as a privilege to be granted or withheld.

A pension is not a pat on the head for services rendered, but deferred wages that are owing.

Historically, the university lecturers’ pension scheme tacitly acknowledged this principle, guaranteeing pensions that were linked to final salaries and not subject to the ups and downs of the market. In recent years, though, this principle has been whittled away, and now Universities UK want to impose a scheme that exposes lecturers’ retirement pay to all the vagaries of the market, fatally undermining the security of their retirement years.

For the average lecturer the proposed new arrangement could mean a pension cut of £10,000.

University lecturers are not prepared to stand by and watch their pensions being trashed. Instead, they have voted by 88 percent to resist this pensions robbery through a series of strikes in February and March.

In addition to the strikes they are also working to rule, sticking to the letter of their contracts and declining to work the unpaid voluntary overtime that normally keeps the universities afloat.

We should all support the lecturers’ just demand for a guaranteed decent pension at the end of their working days. Students in particular, struggling to make ends meet and facing a lifetime repaying loans taken out to pay exorbitant university fees, have a common interest in resisting the marketisation of higher education.

Meanwhile, as the lecturers are being told to take a pensions cut, fat cat vice-chancellors will continue to enjoy pensions based on their very lavish final salaries, amounting to £468,000 in the case of Bath uni’s departing VC, Dame Glynis Breakwell.

A message to workers and students

The interests of lecturers and students are the same. All students will one day enter the labour market, and when they do they will inherit the terms and conditions and the pensions of those who fight for them today.

Stand together against your common enemy, the employers in the capitalist system. Demand a decent pension for workers and free education for all.

We need to build an organisation of people who are prepared to challenge unjust anti-working class cuts and attacks, no matter who tries to implement them.

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