Strikes At West Yorkshire Universities In Pension Row

Picture thanks to UCU

Strikes will take place for 14 days over a four week period.

Members of the University and College Union (UCU) at the University of Leeds will walk out today as a wave of strikes hits 64 universities across the UK in a row over pensions. 

The strikes will affect over 33,000 students at the University of Leeds, with striking staff on picket lines from 8am.

Strikes will take place for 14 days over a four week period, with The University of Bradford joining in week three.

The dispute centres on proposals to end the defined benefit element of the Universities Superannuation Scheme pension scheme. 

The UCU says this would leave a typical lecturer almost £10,000 a year worse off in retirement than under the current set-up.

UCU rep at the University of Leeds Vicky Blake said: 

"Nobody wants to take strike action, we feel we have no choice. These hardline proposals would slash staff pensions and are simply uncalled for. 

"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."

A spokesperson for Universities UK, which represents universities said:

"The USS pensions scheme has a very big deficit of over £6bn and the cost of future pensions has increased by over a third in 3 years. We can't just ignore this. There is a legal duty to put in place a credible plan to reduce the deficit by this summer. The Pensions Regulator has made very clear that this is necessary as it has concerns about the scheme.

"The strike action is very disappointing. UUK remains at the negotiating table, however UCU refuse to engage on how best to ensure the long-term sustainability of the scheme.

"The changes proposed will make the scheme secure, and sustainable, safeguarding the future of universities.  University staff will still have a valuable pension scheme, with employer contributions of 18% of salary, double the private sector average."

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