All out for USS

Strikes force last-minute cancellation of Cambridge lecture by Canadian judge

23 February 2018 | last updated: 26 February 2018

A prestigious law lecture at the University of Cambridge has been cancelled at the last minute because of staff taking strike action in a row over pensions.

Organisers said the annual David Williams lecture, due to be delivered by Canada's former Chief Justice The Rt. Hon. Beverley McLachlin today (Friday), would have to be pulled due to strikes taking place across the university.

UCU said the cancellation of the event was a huge disappointment for all involved, but that the blame for the disruption lay firmly with university leaders.

University of Cambridge UCU branch rep, Waseem Yaqoob, said: 'It is disappointing that this event has had to be cancelled, and it's yet another disruption to university life which could be avoided if the universities' representatives would simply commit to proper negotiations on pensions.

'Nobody wants to take strike action, but staff at Cambridge feel they have been left with no choice. It's time that the university's leaders stood up for staff and told Universities UK to get back to the negotiating table with UCU.'

UCU members are into the second day of 14 days of strikes over proposals to slash the benefits of the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) pension scheme. UCU says this would leave a typical lecturer almost £10,000 a year worse off in retirement than under the current set-up.

The universities' representatives - Universities UK (UUK) - are seeking to push through the changes and have refused to negotiate with UCU. The union says this has left it with no alternative but to strike.

In the recent strike ballot UCU members overwhelmingly backed industrial action. In Cambridge, 89% of UCU members who voted backed strike action on a turnout of 58%.