LONDON, March 13 — Strike action by lecturers at around 65 British universities over planned pension reforms entered its fourth week yesterday, with little sign of compromise.
Universities UK (UUK), an association of British higher education institutions, proposed in January moving from guaranteed income pensions to a scheme in which they are subject to stock market fluctuations.
It argues the change would help fight a pensions deficit of more than £6 billion (RM32.41 billion).
The University and College Union (UCU) opposes the switch, saying it would leave a typical lecturer almost £10,000 a year worse off in retirement.
“It’s not just a question of money,” Akane Kawakami, a language professor at London’s Birkbeck University, told AFP on a picket line.
If the reform passes, “people who plan to become academics will think twice,” she said.
“We are relatively poorly paid for what we do, and part of the attraction of this job is the possibility of having a good retirement plan,” Kawakami added.
“So if we take away this opportunity, many more people will go (to work) in other sectors.”
The UCU last week announced a further 14 days of strikes designed to target the examination period between April and June, if there is no resolution in ongoing talks.
Discussions are continuing between the union and the UUK through the conciliation service Acas.
“I fully support the strike but at the end of the year we have a degree to get,” said Saad Qummer, a 21-year-old chemical engineering student.
“I had classes cancelled... how will that affect our exams?”
The strike is affecting around one million students, according to the UCU. — AFP