Lecturers to consider strike action

Students have been urged to support lecturers in a vote which could lead to strike action over ‘radical’ changes to pensions.

The Universities and Colleges Union is asking members in 67 UK universities, including Leeds, to vote on the proposed walk-out in a ballot this month. The news follows a campaign by the Universities and Colleges Union to resist proposed cuts which the union claims would see thousands of pounds wiped from lecturers’ pensions.

A report by UCU warns that some staff would lose over £200,000 of savings, with staff who have worked in the sector longest and moved up the pay grades to bew hardest hit by changes. In the event of a ‘yes’ vote, members could undertake industrial action, including a marking boycott and a refusal to set exams.

Critics argue the decision would cause further disruption to students following strike action over pay earlier this year. UCU Secretary General, Sally Hunt explained, ‘Staff see their pensions as deferred pay and are understandably angry at the impact these proposals would have’.

She added, ‘We are making it very clear in this ballot that if members back industrial action, and there is no negotiated solution, we will be looking to quickly move to an assessment and exam boycott’.

The University’s UCU representative for pensions, Dr Nigel Bubb såaid, ‘It would help no end if all students in pre-1992 higher education institutions were to send a message to their Vice Chancellors in support of the lecturers’.

He told students, ‘Support your lecturers as they defend their deferred pay, their pension’. Other universities where UCU members have been asked to vote include Sheffield, Oxford and University College London. The ballot closes on Monday 20th October.

Suhail Dhanji

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