We have just completed 14 days of strikes in one of the largest and best supported campaigns the UCU has ever waged. We would like to say a massive thank you to all the members who have supported us by staying away from work and especially to those who were able to come to the picket lines. Some people were there every time, all the time, and they are the true heroes who put the spine into our action. You know who you are ... and so do we: THANK YOU!
Nobody likes going on strike and the lost days have created considerable pain and hardship. We understand that and appreciate the sacrifices people have made. However, it has been worth it: at the start, the employers were refusing to negotiate any more and were adamant the direct benefits scheme would have to close straightaway. They are no longer saying this and many divisions have arisen, with half the VCs agreeing that the whole pensions evaluation needs to be reconsidered. These are massive achievements, even if the initial renegotiated proposal was sorely inadequate. It shows that concerted action works so please keep it up. More than that: try to get your colleagues in the union and if they already are but have not found it in themselves to take action yet, persuade them how important it is that they join us.
If you are one of the people who did not take action, spare a thought for those who did and what they have given up on your behalf. Even better: give some of the salary you earned while we were out on strike to the fighting fund that will help those most in need. Please credit the Aston UCU hardship account: - sort code 60 83 01 - acct 20057392 and email firstname.lastname@example.org that you have made the contribution so that we can track donations.
We have sent a letter to the Chair of Council that asks some questions of Aston's leadership regarding the pension dispute. We are requesting it is put to the next Council meeting. The letter is attached to this article.
There have been many similar letters sent to university committees or executives during this strike but one that was particularly apposite came from the University of St Andrews students. You can read it here but some telling questions were "When did you decide your educators were a liability and not an asset? When did you decide that a measure of your success was how much you were able to economise on the pensions of your staff?"
We will be in touch in the coming week with details about a chance to discuss all the issues relating to the dispute. In the meantime, keep checking back to our website for what we should be doing as Action Short of a Strike pending the next steps that the national UCU are planning.