SOAS UNISON members in the USS pension scheme have taken three days of strike action (21, 22 and 24 February) as part of the biggest ever wave of strikes on UK university campuses as staff at 74 universities begin 14 days of strikes in the face of unfair contribution increases pricing lower paid staff out the USS pension scheme.
UNISON members took action alongside colleagues from SOAS UCU, which joint picket lines in place at all SOAS buildings with services and teaching heavily disrupted. Supporters visiting the SOAS picket line included the Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, UCU General Secretary Dr Jo Grady and NUS UK Vice President Claire Sosienski Smith.
Teach-outs organised by striking staff and student supports ran throughout the day, which contributions from and the Justice for Workers campaign.
It is likely that national negotiations on the USS dispute will take place over the coming days. The independent body set up after the USS Strike last year (the Joint Expert Panel, or JEP), shows that the scheme is currently healthy, and just needs to be valued more appropriately. Employee increases are purely an attempt to save money and run the current defined benefit scheme down. Striking SOAS members of staff call on employers to cover the contribution increases that have been forced on USS members.
But the fight is not over! SOAS UCU members will continue take strike action over the next three weeks against these pension changes, as well as the issues of pay devaluation, pay inequality, casualisation and increasing workloads. We call on UNISON members and all members of the SOAS community to show as much solidarity and love to the UCU picket line as they can over the coming days. Striking UCU staff are fighting for all our futures!