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Statement on UCU campaign for fair pensions

The Students’ Union’s Executive has approved a statement in support of the academic staff who have voted to take action to campaign for fair pensions. We hope the UCU, a trade union for academics and other staff, will be able to swiftly conclude negotiations with Universities UK (UUK), the representative body of a large number of universities. If the negotiations remain unresolved, staff at Universities across the UK have voted to take industrial action either through a strike or action short of a strike.

The Students’ Union and our Officers are currently working to understand how this will impact our students. More information about this will be published soon. Any students concerned about the strike or with any questions can contact one of our Full-Time Officers or come to tonight’s Union Council where this will be discussed.

The University of Sussex Students’ Union Executive stands in support of our academic staff who have voted to take action to campaign for fair pensions. Universities UK (UUK), the representative body of a large number of universities, want to turn the pension scheme from one that would provide a guaranteed retirement income to an unpredictable one subject to investments in the stock market. This would likely see a fall, dramatic in some cases, in the value of people’s pensions.

The proposed industrial action by UCU, a trade union for academics and other staff, has the potential to negatively impact current students. We in the Students’ Union Executive take this very seriously and are concerned about it. We want to support students through it to the best of our ability.

However, we also recognise that the changes to employment conditions for staff proposed by UUK will have a long-lasting detrimental effect on current and future students. These changes will have a direct impact on students’ learning environment and the Sussex community. Students’ education relies on academic staff so their employment experience and conditions will impact students.

These changes particularly impact newer academics, which includes current Sussex postgraduate students, who already face uncertain careers with casual contracts and poor promotion prospects.

We will provide support and information on the planned industrial action and its implications for students both in the long and short term. We support our students in acting in solidarity with UCU at Sussex.

Strong student support could help pressure UUK to resolve matters via compromise with UCU before industrial action takes place. We will be holding a referendum asking students whether the Students’ Union should support the industrial action. We hope this will secure a large student mandate for us to support UCU and will lead to a successful and speedy resolution to this issue.


Update 07/02/18: The Union's policy panel which considers referenda proposals decided that the decision on the Union's stance on the industrial action should be made by Union Council instead of by a referendum. This will allow these elected student representatives to respond to the potentially changing situation over the coming weeks and months rather than binding the Union to a particular view. Union Council will decide what the Union's stance will be at a meeting on 19th February at 6pm in Fulton A. Options for Council to consider will be circulated for students to discuss and respond to later this week and students are invited to attend an open forum to discuss the industrial action on Thursday 15th from 5-6.30pm, in Meeting Room 2 of Falmer House.?


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