Lecturers strike in pension fight

UNIVERSITY LECTURERS STRIKE   Lecturers picket outside Firth Court, University of Sheffield.    22 March 2011
UNIVERSITY LECTURERS STRIKE Lecturers picket outside Firth Court, University of Sheffield. 22 March 2011

LECTURERS at Sheffield’s two universities are today (Thurday) due to stage the second of two days of strike action in a dispute over pensions.

After walking out on Tuesday, members of the University and Colleges Union who work at Sheffield and Sheffield Hallam universities are resuming their protest, part of a national stoppage opposing changes to the University Superannuation Scheme pension fund.

UCU members at Sheffield College are also taking action today in a related dispute over pay and pensions, and proposed job cuts.

A Sheffield UCU spokesman said the dispute centred on attempts to raise the retirement age, increase contributions and end the final salary element of the scheme for new joiners.

He added: “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.”

Prof Brian Cantor, chairman of the Employers Pensions Forum, said: “An enormous amount of work has gone into the development of the package of reforms. The changes are in response to the increasing costs to the scheme from improved longevity.”

The retention of a final salary pension for all existing scheme members was an exceptionally good benefit and the career average scheme for future employees was in line with what looks set to become the norm in all sectors, he said.