Rod Cantrill commented on the UCU industrial action taking place today in Cambridge:
“Higher education and research-based businesses which serve this sector, are all vital for the success of Cambridge. It is crucial that people who work across the Cambridge knowledge economy are paid on a fair basis including salary, pension and other benefits.
Many academics have chosen their career path on the basis that although their salary may not be the highest, they could otherwise achieve, their pension would at least be sufficient and secure.
Fairness is the reason why I am a passionate proponent of the real living wage – having introduced it in the city council in 2013 – and I welcome Cambridge University’s recent decision to seek real living wage accreditation.
The proposed changes to the pensions of academics here in Cambridge and across the university sector appears not to be fair. I am sure Cambridge academics are reluctant to take strike action that may adversely affect students’ education. I understand why they have taken this step, given that the security of their pension provision has already been eroded by changes made in 2014.
The challenge for Cambridge University and the other pre 1992 universities is whether introducing these further changes will result in academics leaving the sector and therefore damage its long term success, versus exploring increases in contributions that will be sufficient to retain the existing scheme intact, given the impact that this may have on the already very tight budgets that universities face.
I hope that Cambridge University will make their overriding priority fairness to their employees on this important issue.”