THOUSANDS of university and college lecturers nationwide will walk out on a five-day strike tomorrow in defence of their pensions.
The strike by members of the University and College Union (UCU) at 61 centres across Britain is the first in a wave of 14 days of stoppages against employers’ organisation Universities UK (UUK).
UUK wants to abolish the lecturers’ pension scheme and replace it with an inferior one.
The current scheme links pensions to lecturers’ final salaries before retirement. The substitute scheme will leave pensions dependent on the vagaries of the stock market and leave lecturers £10,000 a year worse off in retirement, the UCU says.
UUK is made up of university and college vice-chancellors and principals, whose pay runs into the hundreds of thousands. Their own salary-linked pensions will not be affected by the changes.
In York, where 18,000 students will be affected, UCU representative Geoffrey Wall said: “Nobody wants to take strike action, but we feel we have no choice. These hard-line proposals would slash staff pensions and are simply uncalled for.”
At the University of Sheffield, where there are 30,000 students, UCU representative Sam Marsh said: “It is staggering that the universities have refused to engage with the union and a real insult to staff and to students.
“We hope students will continue to put pressure on the vice-chancellors to get their reps back round the negotiating table.”
The strike will continue on Friday, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. Another nine days of strike will take place in the first two weeks of March if the dispute is not resolved.
Seven more universities are balloting on strike action after failing to meet a 50 per cent turnout imposed through Tory anti-union laws.
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