Backing for lecturers’ strike

Will Patterson
Will Patterson

A Wigan political activist has spoken out in support of university staff who took strike action over an ongoing pensions row.

Lecturers staged walkouts yesterday, joining picket lines across the country over pension changes which they say will leave them £10,000 a year worse off when they retire.

Will Patterson, chairman of the Wigan and Leigh Green Party, said the future strength of the UK’s higher education sector was dependent on lecturers being valued by their institutions.

Will said: “Nobody ever takes strike action for fun. People get to that point when every other avenue has been exhausted.

“The right to strike is an important one, it’s the right to say you are being treated unfairly by an employer.”

He added: “I always try to support strikes when they’re on reasonable grounds, which this one is.

“When I was a student, I supported my lecturers when they went on strike, and I hope this generation does too.

“We’re already seeing worries about recruitment in higher education, and retention of lecturers from abroad, particularly since the Brexit vote. If things become worse they will be put off joining our universities.”

A raft of high profile figures have also come out in support of the strike action, including Green Party leader Caroline Lucas and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.

Changes to the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) are set to leave lecturers £10k a year worse off in retirement.

Younger academics could be hit even harder, losing almost half of their retirement kitty.

New plans have seen the USS scrap its current pension scheme, which provides its members with a guaranteed income when they retire, and replace it with a contribution scheme which is dependent on changes in the stock market.

As a result, universities are braced for up to a month of industrial action, affecting 64 universities and more than a million students.