Capitalism Secures Poverty for All

It’s the turn of UK Universities

Universities UK (UUK), the employers’ association, is acting like a capitalist firm, doing everything it can to unload the burden of the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) and instead load it onto the workers, lecturers and support staff in the older Universities (note the newer Universities operate a different pension scheme). They propose to do this by transforming the USS into an individual private investment fund where the whole risk and the responsibility will be carried by the worker. The immediate impact of the changes for many would be a reduction in pension of around £10,000 per year.

These policies are aligned with the strategy of complete dismantlement and privatisation of pension schemes that is ongoing in most capitalist countries. In a way, it resembles the “zero deficit clause” that the EU demands from all pension funds to follow.

There is no debate that the proposed changes will make the workers in Universities worse off. Instead of discussing the expansion of workers’ rights and the rise of living standards that would be in line with the rise of the social productive forces, workers are constantly faced with the axe of the executioner, held by the employers and the bourgeois state. Although the UK government has limited the right to strike with the 2016 Trade Union Act, anticipating exactly such action from the workers, what is significant is the mass mobilization of trade union members and support from students. It is these mass strikes that are forcing the employers to the negotiating table as we write this statement. But the anger goes deeper. Austerity and neoliberal policies have led to intense anger over wage cuts, casualization, job insecurity and rising inequality in pay with the University bosses. It is well known for example that the University Vice Chancellors are ‘paying themselves’ hugely inflated salaries increasing the pay gap within the University sector.

The IIPPE Poverty WG stands in solidarity with the fight of working people in the Universities. We are fully aware that poverty is becoming a reality or a threat for more and more people and this is exactly the raison d’être of this Working Group. The aim of the Poverty WG is to provide a political economy analysis of the causes of poverty and in particular the relationship between austerity and poverty. The WG with its limited forces will objectively inform and help labor unions and similar organizations in their fight for the wage and salary, pension, unemployment compensation, based on objective economic and social criteria.

We call for a multifaceted support of the strike as the days pass and as the attacks on workers intensify, as they surely will.

International Initiative for Promoting Political Economy

Poverty Working Group


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