Strong support for UCU as pensions dispute at Leeds Uni enters 3rd week


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Socialist Students members join the strike rally – photo Iain Dalton

Despite being battered over the last week with snow and chilling winds, UCU members at Leeds University are still going strong in their strike over attacks on the USS pension fund.

Iain Dalton, Leeds Socialist Party

Socialist Party members have visited the picket lines every day of the strike, with this Monday, the beginning of the third week of the dispute seeing the largest attendence yet, with a big student mobilisation in support of the strikers.

Leeds Students Support UCU (LSSU), which Socialist Students is taking part in, submitted a 700+ open letter to the Vice-Chancellor, Sir Alan Langlands, demanding he joins the other Vice-Chancellors supporting their staff and looking for alternative ways to secure the future of the pension scheme rather than the ‘reckless prudence’ of slashing lecturers incomes in retirement.

Although publicly saying he has no influence over the situation, Langlands has imposed ‘double deductions’ for staff taking action short of strike and not rescheduling lectures from strike days (on top of their regular workload) with staff losing 25% of their pay on non-strike days. This shows which side of the fence he is on, despite his protestations. Staff have been cheered by the news that the ‘double deductions’ have been withdraw at Sheffield, Keele and St Andrews Universities.

Under pressure, Langlands has now agreed to meet a delegation from LSSU, who will be demanding he ends the ‘double deductions’ as well as demanding that no student faces sanctions for not crossing picket lines and missing lectures that are still scheduled by non-striking staff.

Given the intransigence of UUK and Langlands, then it is clear that a continuation of the pressure through strike action, and deepening student support will be necessary to win this dispute. With 140 picketers on Monday’s picket line and hundreds of students attending the rally, this is more than acheivable.