You will have seen a proposal from the UUK that is a massive retraction from its original position before the strikes began. In essence, the UUK has accepted that the pensions evaluation should start again with equal input from the union and the employers. In the meantime, the status quo exists until at least next April. You can find the full UUK statement here. It represents a huge achievement coming directly out of the industrial action and shows what the UCU can do when its members work together.
Branches have been asked to report back to the national committee at a meeting on Wednesday, March 26th. Our Aston branch meeting today will need to have a view on whether to accept the new position and call off the industrial action. Please do come along and make sure your voice is heard. We need to know what you think about the new offer and would also like to hear your thoughts on the industrial action campaign as a whole.
This dispute over pensions has exposed the political attacks that academics and higher education in general are experiencing. We are working in a context increasingly surrounded by constraints and corporate values that are antithetical to higher education, where students are treated as units of money and our role is more about keeping them happy than improving their minds. The current dispute has shown that collective action can turn back the tide and we, as a branch as well as a national union, should keep that momentum going. We need to look beyond our own individual circumstances and towards the principles that should be part of higher education as a whole.
Today, we would like the branch to start the dialogue on how we can fight back against the devaluing of university degrees, research, and the role of UCU members. We need to speak out about the commodification of teaching and the fallacious mechanisms for evaluating it, which are detrimental for both students and staff. But to do this, we need more people on our committee so that we can set up working groups to tackle the proliferating problems we are facing. Please do think about volunteering so that we can be proactive and setting the agendas, rather than reacting to the often destructive initiatives of management and HR.
Come along to L120 in the library at 12.30 today, tell us what the branch should say on Wednesday about the latest proposal, and help the branch build an effective movement that resurrects the right higher education values.