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Dispute Bulletin 1

Almost 80 people attend UCU meeting to mobilize for action in pensions dispute

Thurs 1 Feb witnessed the biggest ever UCU meeting at Birkbeck, as almost 80 people demonstrated their opposition to the proposed destruction of our defined benefit pension scheme. The enthusiastic meeting heard reports on dispute planning from local branch Joint President John Kelly and regional official Andy Young whilst a pledge of solidarity and support from Unison was warmly applauded.

People from a range of Departments stepped forward to act as new union reps and begin the detailed planning required for successful action.

It was agreed that we would meet regularly, each Thursday lunchtime, in the same venue, partly for convenience and partly as an ongoing protest at the unavailability of rooms for Birkbeck staff and students. The Thurs meetings will constitute a de facto strike committee to which everyone is invited.

Next Thursday’s meeting, 8 Feb, will discuss inter alia the advice to be given to T&S staff; the position of non-UCU staff who refuse to cross picket lines; and hardship money. It will also begin detailed strike preparations.

In the meantime, local union officers will be meeting the Master Mon 5 February and asking him to join other VCs who have publically defended the defined benefit pension scheme and called for a resumption of meaningful negotiations. We have also written to John McDonnell MP, a Birkbeck alumnus and to Sir Harvey McGrath, Chair of the Court of Governors.

If enough VCs stand up to be counted and support university staff, the disruption entailed in the dispute can be avoided. It is time for the VCs, including the Master, to show whose side they are on in this dispute, the overwhelming majority of university staff or a small cabal of hardline Vice-Chancellors.  


Strike dates

Thurs & Fri 22-23 Feb

Mon-Wed 26-28 Feb

Mon-Thurs 5–8 Mar

Mon-Fri 12-16 Mar


Action Points

  • Come to the next meeting, Thurs 8 Feb, Main Building, Lower Ground Floor area, 1.00 – 2.00 pm
  • Write to the Master, expressing your views and feelings about the planned destruction of our pension scheme.
  • Tell your students about the dispute and the strike dates and urge them to write to the Master, calling on him to declare in public his support for our pension scheme and urging a resumption of meaningful negotiations.
  • Discuss the issue with colleagues at Departmental meetings
  • Join the union and urge others to join too: