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Update 22 February: Following an all student vote the Students' Union's stance has been updated. You can read more here.
The RHUL - UCU and RHSU have issued a joint statement pledging solidarity and continuing the commitment to push for meaningful negotiations to resolve the pension dispute.
Our local statement reads:
"Nationally, NUS and UCU are sister organisations committed to promoting the interests of our members and to defending higher education. We are proud of our work together in calling for a better deal for students and staff and in challenging the marketisation of education. Locally too, RHUL UCU and RHSU have a proud tradition of co-operation and supporting each other.
We believe that fairly rewarded staff are a cornerstone of the university experience and that the proposal by Universities UK to substantially cut the pensions of members of the USS pension scheme is unfair and will be hugely damaging if implemented.
As representatives of students, RHSU is naturally concerned about the impacts the strikes may have on our student members in terms of valuable study time. However, we also respect the right to strike and the unjust consequences that are forcing UCU to react. We are worried that the imposition of the cuts to pensions in the face of sector wide opposition will lead to a demotivated and unhappy workforce. There are likely to be serious consequent recruitment and retention problems as staff move to post-1992 universities and even schools, which have much more generous pension schemes. Some staff may even leave the sector entirely.
As representatives of staff, UCU is concerned that alongside recent cuts in the real terms value of pay and the very high rates of casualisation, these pension proposals are seen as yet another betrayal of hard working staff.
We believe that the current policy of paying ever higher salaries for VCs and Principals while cutting pensions for academics sends a hugely damaging signal to both students and staff."
In sending its solidarity to RHUL- UCU, RHSU asks its members to:
· Continue to call for the university employers to recognise the seriousness of the situation and agree to meaningful negotiations either directly with UCU or via ACAS
· Write today to the Principal to complain about the impact the strike will have on their learning
In response, UCU agrees to:
· Work closely with RHSU to explain to students why action is taking place
· Remain willing to resume negotiations at any point in order to settle the dispute if possible
· Continue to support RHSU in our wider struggle for a fair and just education system.
As a demonstration of our shared position, we jointly call on staff and students to lobby Council members on 21st February to encourage the Principal to speak out against the proposed pension cuts and to urge him to press Universities UK to change their stance and agree to further talks. These moves could enable us to avoid the planned painful strike action.
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