Aberystwyth University and Cardiff University are among the Universities in Wales who are set to launch 14 days of strike action, in a row regarding pensions. Representing staff at the affected Universities, the University and College Union (UCU) have said the walkouts will begin on February 22nd – in around three weeks time. And in bad news for the disruption levels – the strike action is set to take place over four weeks. Over 50 universities in the United Kingdom will be partaking in the action. Read on for the full story.
The UCU is planning on striking due to a proposed pension plan change from Universities UK – more of which will be discussed below. A strike would have serious ramifications for students. Without staff, lectures, assignment grading, mentoring and other academic functions would simply cease temporarily – effectively shutting down a University. Bangor University and the University of Wales are other institutions set to be affected by the strike in Wales. Members of the UCU at Swansea University are being balloted to see strike validation levels.
As mentioned above, this vote was taken in response to planned pension changes by Universities UK. Universities UK are planning on changing the pension scheme, with a recommended change to a model that would see pension income linked to changes in the stock market. This would replace the current model, which provides a guaranteed retirement income. Most see the planned change as a negative step, causing concern for staff. While a strike normally comes as a last resort, it could be necessary, with figures suggesting affected staff could lose over £200,000 in the course of their retirement, due to the changes.
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The strike action – which is set to kick off February 22 and spread over the subsequent four weeks – will put pressure on Universities UK regarding the planned pension changes. While strikes have been held before in the education sector, they are often called off at the eleventh hour – subject to successful negotiations. There is plenty of time for this issue to be resolved, however students will rightfully be fearful of the effect a strike would have on them. It is clearly an important issue for staff members.
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