Lecturers vote 91pc for strike at Queen Mary University in dispute over pension cuts
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Strike action is to hit Queen Mary University when up to 700 college lecturers could walk out in a dispute about cuts to their pensions.
The campuses at Mile End, Whitechapel and The City are being disrupted with 14 days of strike—the first on February 26.
The dispute with the University and College Union affecting 15 other institutions in London including City University, as well as 47 others across Britain, begins with a five-day walkout on February 22.
Queen Mary’s, with a 91 per cent of its academic staff voting for strike in a 53 per cent turn-out, joins the stoppage four days later because of its academic calendar.
The universities will then be hit with four days of strikes from March 5 and a five-day walkout the following week.
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The industrial action follows the breakdown of talks last week with the employers’ representative Universities UK over plans to “end defined benefits” of the superannuation pension scheme which the union claims would leave many lecturers £10,000 a year worse off in retirement than the current scheme.
“Staff are angry at efforts to slash their pensions,” the union’s general secretary Sally Hunt said. “They feel let down by vice-chancellors who seem to care more about defending their own pay and perks than the rights of their staff.
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“Strike action on this scale has not been seen before on UK campuses, but universities need to know the full scale of the disruption they will be hit with if they refuse to sort this mess out.”
The lecturers last walked out in 2015 when the pension scheme was previously altered by the university employers which reduced retirement benefits.
The new formula now on the table takes account of growing risks to pension funds in today’s market, says Universities UK. The changes “are a necessary step” which would also give “flexibility” for newcomers to pay as little as four per cent contributions into their pension pot while universities still pay 18pc.
But the proposed changes are “unsustainable” according to the union, which says the universities have “gone back on their promise” to make no further cuts from the last review three years ago.