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University staff to strike over pension cuts plan

Chris Satori

As part of a national dispute over a staff pension scheme, the University and College Union (UCU) will call on its members to take strike action on the following 14 days:

22, 23 February (week 16)
26, 27, 28 February (week 17)
5, 6, 7, 8 March (week 18)
12, 13, 14, 15, 16 March (week 19)

A number of activities are being planned in Lancaster to educate and prepare staff, students and townspeople about the industrial action and its causes - see poster and events calendar.

Not all staff are members of the staff union and not all members may choose to strike – this means the impact of the strike is likely to vary in different parts of the University.

On the days of the strike you should expect to see peaceful picket lines at a range of University entry points. The University will remain open throughout the period of the strike but people using the university should take this industrial action into account when planning their activities.

The industrial action is taking place in more than 60 universities across the UK in response to planned reforms to USS – the main pension scheme for many staff in those universities.

USS is one of the largest private pension schemes for UK universities but it is in deficit. Proposals have been made to reduce the promised pension benefits by Universities UK (UUK), a body representing all higher education institutions in the USS scheme and the staff union, UCU. At present, there is no agreement on the benefits changes.

According to the Union, quoted in a SCAN report, USS cuts since 2011 have left university staff pensions on a lower level than those of school teachers, and lower than those of the academic staff in non-USS universities. The new pensions scheme could cut pensions by up to 40%, as they would depend solely on stock market performance rather than the guaranteed income that the current system provides.

You can find out more on the University's Strike FAQs page, on the 2018 Lancaster Uni Strike fb page, and on the UCU website.

Support for the strike was at 88.9% in a ballot last month, with 73.4% of eligible voters turning out to vote. Lancaster University UCU members had the highest turnout in England.