Workers Party South Belfast spokesperson Patrick Lynn has expressed solidarity with the academic and academic-related staff at Queen’s University and Ulster University who have startted ten days of strike action.
The staff are protesting in defence of their pensions and as part of their Four Fights on Pay, Casualisation, Equality, and Workload.
“These strikes represent an important struggle against the constant drive to worsen workers’ pay and conditions, not just during their working lives, but afterwards as well”, Patrick said.
“Those responsible for managing the pension scheme have been repeatedly attemping to destroy the pensions that people have paid into, and worked in good faith in the expectation of receiving. These attempts are not motivated by financial concerns for a scheme with 92 billion pounds in assets, but are an ideological attack on the concept of defined benefit pensions”, he added.
The Universities and Colleges Employers Association has for more than a decade driven down pay, which fell 17.6% in real terms between 2009 and 2019.
“The University sector is awash with cash and bonuses for Vice Chancellors and other managers responsible for attacking pay and conditions, for casualisation and systemic exploitation of the sector’s most vulnerable workers, and for the continuing outrageous gender pay gap across the UK’s higher education sector”, Patrick added.
“Workloads have risen massively, while pay has fallen, and now pensions are under attack, with a planned cut of up to 35% to guaranteed retirement income.
“The ruthlessness of the employers can also be seen in the threats to take up to 100% of pay every day work legally withdrawn as part of strike action is not undertaken.
“The Workers Party expresses its solidarity with the striking workers, and wishes them every success. They have fought off these attempts before, and we are confident they can do so again”, Patrick concluded.