Dear Mr Kinnock,
As you did not respond to my email of 12 March inviting you to join our picket, my colleagues and I are now writing to you collectively, as staff and students of the University of Kent.
We were surprised and disappointed to learn that you are due to visit our School this coming Thursday 14 March to deliver a talk to our students as part of our public speaker programme.
Under ordinary circumstances the visit by an elected representative to the School would be a highly welcome and exciting event. However the circumstances are far from ordinary.
This week is the final week of a 14-day long cycle of industrial action currently being undertaken by the University College Union (UCU) in a dispute with our employers over a drastic attack on our pensions. The dispute engages over 60 universities up and down the country, and has been going on over the course of the last three weeks, drawing plenty of public attention. Under the proposed changes to the scheme, many of us stand to lose up to £10,000 per year in retirement. This represents an unprecedented attack on our financial security and on a pension scheme that is financially robust.
The majority of permanent and casual academic staff in the School are participating in the industrial action, and we have had welcome and inspiring support from our students. We have also had the support of the Canterbury Constituency Labour Party as well as our local MP, Rosie Duffield.
As an elected representative of the Labour Party with the concern of protecting workers’ rights and interests, we the undersigned urge you to not to cross the picket line by delivering a talk this coming Thursday. We urge you to come out in public support of our industrial action and to join us on the picket line tomorrow.