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November, 2011:

Southampton UCU Marches to Defend Pensions

On Halloween, Southampton UCU chose to mark our first payday with increased pension contributions and reduced benefits by holding a lunchtime information session and an evening march to Southampton city centre.

Our information stand gave staff the opportunity to sign a slip expressing their condolences for our USS pension scheme — much loved and sorely missed — which they could place into our coffin.  Staff also wore black armbands to express their sadness at the departure of our beloved benefits.

At 5.45 in the evening, UCU members and supporters gathered at the staff club at Highfield Campus, where we began our march to Guildhall Square.  SUSUtv, our student union’s television journalists, and local paper The Daily Echo followed our departure, as we set off in a respectful procession, carrying our coffin with us to the city centre to mourn the passing of our benefits.

Once we arrived, we joined our colleagues from Unison, UNITE, PCS, NUT, and other unions for an open meeting of the Trades Union Council for Southampton and South-West Hampshire.  Mark Serwotka, General Secretary of PCS, joined us and delivered an inspiring address calling for the spirited defence of jobs and pensions.

Thank you to all who joined us on the day to show their respects for USS and to join our TUC colleagues at the open meeting.  Let us hope that our sadness will be short-lived, and that our employers will renegotiate with us to ensure that our pension benefits do not simply pass quietly into the night, endangering the future of our profession, but return once again to enrich our lives and our futures.