Saturday, February 24, 2018

Strikes by UK University Lecturers

One symptom of ageing in life appears to be that politically one moves to the right. In other words the younger one is the more one is likely politically to lean to the left or for a few, to the Lib/Dems.

Possibly such almost imperceptible change in political attitudes  is a reflection of the experience that follows age. However this coupled with practical issues such as older people  on average having  paid more income tax  over their lives than younger  generations.  Older people have also  observed  rather more of what has or has not, been done with their hard earned money by governments of all political hues.

So it is with the current strikes by some UK university lecturers. Working I gather for only 30 hours a week with two or three months holiday a year and earning £34.000 to £55,000 pa, arguably they are but part timers who could supplement their salaries by taking  on additional part time work and income.

Possibly a university lecturer's work is so arduous and tiring that earning supplementary income in this way is out of the question. Even so most workers tend not to strike over pensions. If university lecturers are being wronged by their employers they could and should test that by making an application to the courts for judicial review and/or breach of contract. 

Judges are not very forgiving of state institutions which seek short cuts or cash savings  transgressing individuals' rights. Such actions would save students from having their studies interrupted.

 Given the fact that there are unions/professional associations acting for many university lecturers the court action could easily be taken on behalf of members by their unions thus saving the students much bother and letting all continue with their studies.

Possibly a couple of the reasons for the university lecturers  not being supported so far at least, by their unions in court action against their employers, is apparent from two headlines in today's Times newspaper reading:

University activists have been plotting strike for seven years and Union Leader who condemns high pay earns £138,000 a year."

In a free society of course lecturers like most other people can decide not to work and go on strike. However the  university lecturers' pension fund is a £billion+ in the red, which presumably reflects the size of the pensions being paid, as stock markets around the world have over past years been booming - essentially until last week.  

There is no logical reason why taxpayers, many of whom   work 40 hours a week and have to fund their own non indexed linked and non guaranteed pensions, should pay to make up shortfalls in university lecturers' pension funds to enable lecturers to continue to enjoy far superior pension arrangements than themselves.

Possibly when I was 22 the blog post above might have read rather differently!

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