Lecturers Strike Over Pension Cuts

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More than 60 UK Universities faced strike action from lecturers on Tuesday, 22 and Thursday, 24 March in a disagreement with staff pensions.

After it was stated that lecturers would support the strike action, the University and College Union (UCU) set in place several dates for the strike to take place across the UK.

In a ballot created by the University and College Union, over two thirds of the voters said that they would support the strike and the remaining four fifths voted for another form of action that did not involve striking.

The University Employers Pension Forum however reported that only 8% of academic staff voted for strike action and only 10% voted for another form of protest.  It was estimated that more than a million students would have been affected by the strikes that took place. [[videosmall|523]]

At Loughborough disruption to students has been kept to a minimum as although many lectures were cancelled because of the strike both on Tuesday and Thursday most seem to have been arranged for alternative times so that students are not at a disadvantage because of it.

A member of the strikers said: We are striking to protect the USS pension scheme that the employers have tried to put through which will result in a massive detrimental effect on that pension for all its members

“We are hoping to bring all the employers back to the negotiating table.

“The Union has already suggested that they should go to ACAS to continue the negotiations with regard to how the scheme should be funded and what changes should be made and the employers have refused to do that.

“Realistically, the students need to bear in mind that changes to the pensions schemes such as they are, are the sort of things that are going to affect them when they come into the workplace as well and the likelihood is if we don’t fight for them now there won’t be them pensions schemes there for them when they come into the workplace.”

President of the Students’ Union, Lucy Hopkins told LSUTV’s Newsdash that the situation was “very interesting”.

She said: “the people that are in charge of the LUCU (the lecturers union at Loughborough) actually bothered to come meet me and the general manager at the Students’ Union and explained why they were doing the strikes and actually try to come up with some kind of arrangement where it will have as little impact on students as possible.

I have sympathy for what the lecturers are going through but obviously, as little impact upon students as possible is what we want.

“By the law those people that have gone on strike have to tell the university they have done so, meaning they won’t get paid.

“But obviously from a student perspective they (students) have still paid their tuition fees for that lecture.

“What I would recommend they do is speak to the lecturer or the head of their department and explain the situation. Most of the lecturers have agreed to give the lecture again or give something extra in place of the lecture they have missed.“

The possibility of a strike was condemned by the spokesmen for the Employers Pension Forum who stated that “this course of action will only damage students, institutions and the sector as a whole.”

The spokesman also stated that the “changes to the pension scheme had been …approved by a joint negotiating committee, in which the UCU is involved, in July 2010”.

The UCU general secretary Sally Hunt said before the strike that "Strike action is always a last resort and [that]we can avoid widespread disruptions on campus, but both sides must be prepared to go that extra mile and move quickly.”

Hunt also expressed that she hoped that the strike would not have to happen but as we all became aware this became unavoidable.

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