University of Nottingham staff were today joined by students as they protested proposed cuts to pensions.
Picket lines were set up at the west and south entrances of the University Park campus, with protesters arriving at around 6.45am.
Hamish Reid, 26, a PhD researcher in political theory, joined the picket line at around 8.30am to support his colleagues who teach.
He said: “It’s frankly outrageous. Lots of my colleagues who teach as PhD students have been put on casualised agency contracts in recent years.
“They have been effectively de-unionised, and are less able to organise in their interests.
“The management are essentially trying to cut costs and make the University more profitable by squeezing resources.”
A maths lecturer, who did not wish to be named, was one of the first on the picket line.
He said: “I’ve been a lecturer here since 1990, and the conditions have eroded gradually. But it has been at a pace over the past ten years.
“We enter the profession as a vocation, but also because there’s the freedom to do what you’re passionate about.
“It’s harder to do that when you’re getting paid less.
“Pensions are essentially a deferred salary, making this in effect a four per cent pay cut.”
A fraction of the picket line at west entrance UP campus @UniofNottingham. Touched by the number of students showing their support. Thank you so much @ucu @UoNUCU #pensionsaxed #USSstrike pic.twitter.com/X5hzGbcclQ
— Tony Padilla (@DrTonyPadilla) February 22, 2018
Lecturers who are striking claim that the proposed changes to the pension system will leave them £10,000 a year worse off for every year of their retirement.
Many classes have been affected, but students are expressing support for those striking.
Ahmed Tesin, 23, an Entrepreneurship, Management and Innovation Masters student from Lenton, said: “It isn’t right. Just because there’s a deficit they shouldn’t eat into lecturers’ pension funds.”
Beth Foster, 19, a History Masters student who also lives in Lenton, said: “I support the lecturers’ right to strike and understand their reasons, even if I’m not directly affected by the strike.”
Universities UK, the company that manages the university, has proposed that the pension fund should be switched from one which guarantees a certain retirement income, to one which is subject to stock market movements.
This is in order to reduce a £6.1bn deficit in the Universities Superannuation Scheme which assigns pensions to university staff.
A spokesperson for Universities UK said: ” University staff will still have a valuable pension scheme, with employer contributions of 18% of salary, double the private sector average.
“This makes strike action very disappointing.
“UUK remains at the negotiating table, but so far UCU has refused to engage on how best to address the funding challenges facing USS.”
The strikes will continue tomorrow.