East End college and uni staff to strike over pensions row

College and university lecturers are about to go on strike in a row over pensions.

Dozens of University and College Union (UCU) members at Tower Hamlets College in Poplar will take to the picket line on Thursday over what they deem to be unfair increases in their pension contributions and moves to raise the retirement age.

Staff at Queen Mary, University of London will also strike tomorrow, joining thousands of staff at other universities across the country.

Richard McEwan, lecturer at Tower Hamlets College in Poplar High Street, said: “The latest changes will see up to a nine per cent reduction in our pensions.

“The extra charges will also add between �80 and �150 a month onto our payments. They are lowering the standards of the public sector.”

Students are expected to join lecturers and other staff at Queen Mary’s Mile End Road site tomorrow.

UCU general secretary Sally Hunt said: “University staff really value their pension rights and have made it clear from the start of this dispute that if the employers were not prepared to negotiate then we would be left with little option but to take strike action.”

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Tower Hamlets College will remain open on Thursday.

Michael Farley, principal, said: “Whilst we are sympathetic to employee concerns relating to pensions we are disappointed that UCU has decided to call a national industrial action.

“We continue to work closely with other colleges to lobby government over the proposed changes to public sector and further education funding. We have highlighted to ministers and MPs the impact that these changes will have on communities such as Tower Hamlets.”

The strikes come ahead of Saturday’s union-organised march in London against public sector cuts which is expected to attract more than 100,000 people.