Liveblog: UCU strikes debate
Should we support the strikes?
Soton Tab are here, waiting for the debate to begin.
We’re off to a great start. Tab Editor Iona just asked everyone to pose for a pic and her flies were undone the whole time.
The debate has started. There will be five speeches from each side, for and against the strikes, and also a Q&A.
An intro to the proposed changes to pensions. Our first speaker informs us that the scheme as it currently stands is in debt thanks to the economy, and that now there is a “hole to be filled”.
He goes on to add that the university has already had to increase its payments by 30%, and argues that it is unfair for universities to pay more in light of education cuts, and in fact would be detrimental to universities.
A sharp rapping of a gavel by our leader in the centre. What’s happening?
Apparently the speaker was being asked to wrap things up. The next speaker, Hopeful VP Engagament Fleur Walsh (pro strikes) is now explaining how Southampton is dropping down in league tables and more investment is needed. She emphasises that every student will be affected by these pension cuts, and commends schemes at other universities such as Bournemouth and Solent which provide incentives for staff.
She summarises “We will win the strike by supporting our staff and refusing to cross picket lines”.
In answer, the next speaker (against strikes) warns us that this is a National Issue. We have to face the facts and this current pension scheme is Fundamentally Unsustainable. Possibly his surname is Snowden – unconfirmed at time of writing.
He asks that we, as students, make up our own minds on the strikes rather than going along with SUSU (who support the strike and industrial action) who are apparently essentially pushing their own political agenda… A few people are laughing, but the passionate speaker continues, appealing to students now on the basis that “tuition fees are going to have to increase” if the pension scheme is to be continued.
Ben in the blue shirt now stands up to speak, and immediately moves to counter some of the more “bizarre” assertions of his predecessor. Ben confirms that other universities have better pension schemes and that they’re “not about to collapse”.
He also reminds everyone present that an average cut of £10,000 per lecturer cannot be considered a reasonable cut, that lecturer pay has gone down by enormous percentages on average since 2009 (when tuition fees went up) while Vice Chancellor pay has gone up on average of 117%. Presumably Soton’s own VC Christopher Snowden has brought up this average quite a bit.
Ben is commending the past support given by lecturers and by UCU, who have fought for students “on every corner”. He pledges to support the lecturers, and hopes that other students will too.
Questions to the floor are now open people. The first question is about so-called ‘better’ pension schemes at other universities
From the floor, ‘Why don’t lecturers move abroad?’, The pro-team respond that this will be the cost of the British education scheme.
A member of the audience claims, “We should be taking cuts from those higher up like Snowden’s wage, it is unfair to cut the pensions of the lecturers.” The Tab agrees, #getridofChris
Pro-team is sassy and shuts down the opposition’s argument about the deficit. Pro-team also wants to cut down Snowden’s pay. Let him live on the breadline
Pro-team asks whether it is better to have good lecturers or good vice chancellors?
Pro-team state that the Vice-chancellor doesn’t care, he could have control but he he chooses not to act
question from the audience: “If you were having a cut from your pensions, would you strike?”,The opposition answers, “As someone who is having a pension cut, I would be disruptive, however I do not believe that this strike is helping in the bugger picture.”
The pro-team correct the opposition and give examples of how the UCU have been negotiating
The Question is, where do we aim the anger?
Closing statement from the pro-team: “Not just a year for lecturers, it is the rest of their careers and the rest of their lives, it would be 10,000 lost every year after they retire.” Pro-team loves the phrase, ‘deficitbogeyman’
Closing statement from opposition: “We got to get back into reality, a treasury bond is not worth investing in because deficits are rising. It’s only reasonable that lecturers should realise this, it is not worth prolonging this.”
Final vote, pro strikes win all
On a side note editor, Iona accidentally raised her hand for the wrong vote, she does in fact support the strikes