University lecturers and staff are taking part in the biggest strike UK’s higher education sector has seen. At stake is their pension scheme, that their employers are planning to slash by £10,000 per year.
They’re risking their livelihood and popularity as well, seeing how their 14-day escalating strike action will cause students to miss many hours of lectures. This is the action they’ve been forced to take when they were left with no choice when their employers refused to continue negotiating with them.
In stark, decadent contrast, the chief executive of the lecturers’ pension scheme has been revealed to receive a 17 percent pay rise this year, the BBC reported. That’s an extra £82,000 in total.
At the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) scheme, which now have a £6bn deficit that it is asking lecturers to shave off their pensions to plug, BillGalvin’s pay package had risen £484,000 to £566,000, a USS spokeswoman said.
Sally Hunt, leader of the UCU lecturers’ union, said: “Whatever happens with this dispute, it is time for a proper look at what is happening with USS.”
“Staff forced out on strike today will no doubt look at the salaries enjoyed by some of those in charge of the scheme and wonder what exactly they are doing to justify the salary and safeguard the pensions.”
USS pension scheme’s staff salaries are under the spotlight now amid a dissatisfied lecturer community who have had to deal with pay caps.
It costs £61m to pay staff at USS. Two staff members even earn between £1m and £1.25m, while another 113 staff earned more than £100,000 – 18 more than in the previous year.
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“No doubt that overall, USS provides excellent value for money for the products and services we provide,” Galvin wrote in the annual accounts.
A spokeswoman for USS said it offered “above-average investment performance at below-average cost”.
“Our investment performance has been consistently good – reducing the contributions that would otherwise be required of members and employers.
“USS is focused on delivering value for its members and its investment costs, relative to assets under management.”