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BREAKING: Students’ Union vote to support UCU Industrial Action

The University of Nottingham Students’ Union (UoNSU) have voted to support the industrial action being taken by the Univesity College Union (UCU) ahead of their proposed 14-day strike over changes to their pension scheme.

In a statement released today, the Students’ Union Officers confirmed that the vote, taken by the Education Reps, Faculty Reps, and Full- and Part-Time Officers, passed with a majority in favour of support.

The industrial action comes as a result of the proposal by Universities UK (UUK) to change the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS), the main pensions scheme for university staff.

“”The proposal by UUK… will not only be damaging to individuals financially but will also mean uncertainty.””

The decision to support the action was based on the “belief [that] our lecturers have the right to a pension that will give staff peace of mind.”

The statement by the Students’ Union said:

“The proposal by UUK (Universities UK) to change the USS pension scheme will not only be damaging to individuals financially but will also mean uncertainty and low morale for our staff; staff who deserve to be rewarded and recognised fairly for their contribution to the University of Nottingham and Higher Education in general.”

The industrial action is the result of a longstanding deficit between the value of the pension scheme’s assets. UUK have put forward a proposal to transform the USS scheme from a defined benefit scheme, with a guaranteed retirement income, to a defined contribution scheme where pension income is subject to stock market changes.

National representatives of universities (UUK) and staff (UCU) have negotiated for several months, but have yet to agree on a solution to the deficit.

The Students’ Union also stated that staff will not be marking work during the days of the strike. The University have confirmed that they will be working with the schools to ensure that there is minimal disruption to the curriculum.

“”The current policy of paying even higher salaries for VCs and Principals, while cutting pensions for those who do the work, sends a hugely damaging signal.””

The Students’ Union have also confirmed that library, counselling and student services will be open with minimal impact.

A joint UCU/National Union of Students (NUS) statement released on 30th January 2018 said:

“We believe that the current policy of paying even higher salaries for VCs and Principals, while cutting pensions for those who do the work, sends a hugely damaging signal to both students and staff.”

In the industrial action ballot held by the UCU in January, over 88% of 657 votes by staff at the University of Nottingham answered ‘Yes’ to the question: ‘Are you prepared to take industrial action consisting of strike action?’.

One 7th February 2018, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Nottingham, Shearer West, released a statement regarding the strike action. In the statement, she said:

“I respect the rights of staff to peaceful protest, including industrial action, but if that happens, our priority as a University will be to ensure that we do everything we can to minimise disruption to our thousands of students and the many other staff who do not wish to participate in industrial action.”

“We are working with academic schools to ensure that they communicate with you effectively if, for example, specific seminars or lectures are likely to be disrupted. They will also make plans to recover disrupted learning activities, maintain assessment deadlines and look at where revised deadlines might be helpful.”

The University of Nottingham is one of 61 universities facing disruption as a result of the industrial action. The strike dates can be found here.

Connor Higgs

Featured image courtesy of The University of Nottingham Students’ Union.

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