Tuesday, 22 February 2011

students shoulder to shoulder with staff

 Sign the petition in support of UoB staff here http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/uobstudentssupportstaff/

Yesterday many University of Birmingham academic staff received an email concerning the UCU strike ballot. Sent by the university managers and signed by the vice chancellor David Eastwood and other members of the executive, it urged them to vote against UCU to minimise the "effects on students".

We stand shoulder to shoulder with staff and UCU and recognise that the real disruption to our education is being done by the very damaging cuts, in the form of over 200 job losses, being pushed by the vice chancellor David Eastwood.

Members of the University and College Union (UCU) will shortly be balloted on taking industrial action. In support of the UCU's fight against a 4.6% real terms pay cut and against the regressive changes to the staff pension scheme.

This year in our fight against fees UoB UCU have come out on every single demo and protest supporting students and have been lobbying hard against a fee increase.

In 2006 UCU took industrial action, and received strong support from the student body, if not always from the Guild of Students. In 2006 the industrial action took the form of a boycott of marking and assessment, which delayed some results for students, however it did allow education to continue minimising the effect upon students.

The University managers are arguing that pay increases would increase the strain on the Universities finances. Yet this seems to be a rather hypocritical stance, considering that the Vice Chancellor has just accepted an 11% pay rise to £392,000, despite his present salary of £352,000 already being 13 times the UK average. This year alone the executive pay roll was raised from £13.3 million pounds to £14.7 million; an average increase of 10.5% per manager.

To put this in perspective, in the academic year 1999/2000 the VC earned £169,000, and there were 28 staff earning more than £100,000 p/a with a combined pay of £3.3 million. 10 years later VC pay equaled £392,000, and there were 97 staff earning more than £100,000 p/a with a combined pay of £14.7, unlike average staff pay, far above inflation and the average growth of the university.

We can’t accept arguments for the necessity of pay cuts, when the University managers won’t apply this rule to themselves, and we fully support UCU in the fight for fair pay.
The proposed reforms to pensions are highly regressive and we back UCU’s analysis that they are potentially discriminatory, with women taking a higher burden of the negative effects of the changes.

The strength of staff opposition, with 96% of those USS members who voted in the UCU referendum rejecting these proposals, should alone be enough to make the University rethink the proposals. The University’s arguments are flawed. They point out the need to raise money in the short term, but the pension proposals will save very little in the short to medium term, while damaging the position of members. Further, there is no evidence that the pension scheme needs to be so drastically cut as it is already a stable and sustainable scheme. The proposals to reform the pension scheme are simply designed to reduce employers' contributions and further increase revenue for the University at the expense of staff members. As students we stand 100% with staff members in their fight against these changes.

We recognise that a sound university system requires both job security and the protection of salaries and pensions against inflation. An under-funded and insecure workforce is not in the interests of staff or students as it will clearly further undermine the 'student experience'. In advance of the predictable (and short-sighted) claims by University managers, that striking University employees are damaging student prospects, we extend our solidarity to University employees in their attempt to reject the imposition of ever greater and widening inequality within the University system.

We reject, in advance, all predictable attempts by University managers to divide students from staff in our collective fight against the imposition of cuts and fees across higher education.

1 comment:

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