We are Trinity Laban support staff and members of UNISON trade union and we are taking strike action on 2 March over changes to our pension, the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS).
Academics in the UCU trade union at other institutions (including University of Greenwich) are also striking for 14 days across February and March against the pension changes, pay cuts, BAME and gender pay gaps, casualisation and workloads. We are striking together for a fairer future for everyone.
Why are you striking?
University employers are ignoring pension experts and want us to pay more based on a flawed assessment of the value of the USS pension pot. Changes to our pension since 2011 mean a typical USS scheme member is around £240,000 worse off in retirement than they would have been without the changes.
Over the past few months, further changes have been pushed through by employers to increase our pension contributions (9.6% rather than 8% of our salary) and we expect that this will be raised further in 2021. These increases will price lower-paid staff out of the pension scheme altogether, meaning some of us face poverty in our retirement. We believe staff have given enough and want our employers to agree a fairer long term solution.
What is a trade union? What is a strike?
A trade union is an organisation of workers at a workplace. We collectively negotiate with our employer and look after each other in times of need. UNISON represents support staff at Trinity Laban.
A strike is a period of time where members of a trade union agree to not come into work in protest about a problem they face. By refusing to work we are trying to disrupt the normal running of the university to put pressure on Trinity Laban to find a fairer solution to the dispute. When staff go on strike we lose pay. This is a hugely difficult decision for us to make but our fears about our retirement and the employers' refusal to genuinely negotiate has led us to strike as a last resort.
Why are you outside the buildings?
We are organising a picket line. This is a boundary established by workers on strike which others are asked not to cross. We are trying to persuade other workers and students not to go into work or use the facilities in the Trinity Laban buildings. By doing so, we are hoping to put pressure on Trinity Laban to act on our legitimate concerns over the unfair changes to our pensions.
How can I support you?
If you are a student
- Do not cross our picket line to enter the Trinity Laban buildings. Join us on the picket line instead!
- Write to the Trinity Laban Principal, Anthony Bowne, asking that he acts on striking staffs concerns: a.bowne AT trinitylaban.ac.uk
If you are a staff member not on strike
- We are asking people not to go into work. Please show as much respect to our picket line as you can. If you are in the USS pension you can join the union and strike today!
- If you do go into work on a strike day then do not under any circumstances cover the work we would normally be doing or undermine the impact of our strike action in any way.
- Join upcoming lunchtime rallys.
- Circulate our leaflets. Hot drinks and food are always welcome!