The Social History Society is a learned society championing the pursuit of social and cultural history. It was founded over 40 years ago and one of its long-held aims has been to understand and critique social dynamics and power relations. Many of our members are academic historians, early career researchers and doctoral students. Many of those who are also members of the University and College Union (UCU) are currently on strike to protect their pensions and wider working conditions and to protest against the commodification of higher education.
The Social History Society endorses a statement issued by History UK earlier this week – an independent national body that promotes and monitors History in UK Higher Education. The SHS believes that universities should work to maintain the conditions of employment under which academics were originally employed, including pensions. We recognise that academics often face significant insecurity at the beginning of their professional life, that many forgo better salaries and conditions outside academia because of their commitment to teaching and research, and that postgraduate and early career academics are now facing joining a sector increasingly characterised by precarity. The undermining of the USS pension significantly adds to this insecurity. We hope that the dispute will be speedily resolved and we are encouraged to see that ACAS have started conciliation talks between UCU and the Universities UK group.