Recent weeks have seen extensive strikes across the country at 57 universities. The dispute stems from the transition of lecturers pension from “defined benefits” to a “defined contributions” scheme. Universities UK says the current scheme has a deficit of more than £6bn which it cannot ignore. The University and College Union (UCU) believe this deficit is overblown and the tests used to determine the stability of the scheme were over zealous.
The reality is that final salary pensions schemes have proven time and time again as unaffordable and prone to collapse. Changes to the scheme need to be made if lecturers wish for it not to go bankrupt.
Should these lecturers be outraged and annoyed that what they were promised won’t be what they will get? Yes they should! Should they be taking industrial action right before students who pay their wages are about to take exams? No!
Lecturers and universities work all year round, not just during term time. Often the work done by lecturers and professors outside of term time on their research is the most profitable to universities. It feels like these strikes are targeted to hurt students the most and not the universities. With some lectures callously disrupting students working.
Most people would jump at the chance to join a defined contribution pension scheme with an 18% employer contribution. This in affect acts as an 18% pay rise in the long run. Most organisations just meet the legal 1% (2018 pre April, 2% post April) requirement.
Is asking for more even if you were wrongly promised more greed?