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UCU Strike Action at Royal Holloway

The University and College Union (UCU) has announced that 61 universities will be taking part in 14 strike dates, beginning with a two-day walkout on 22 and 23 February.

The UCU represents over 110,000 people in universities, colleges, prisons, adult education and training organisations across the UK, and is the largest staff trade union at Royal Holloway.

61 universities, including Royal Holloway, are protesting in response to proposed changes to the USS pension scheme: the largest pension scheme for higher education institutions in the UK.

The 14 days of industrial action were announced on January 29. The two-day walkout on 22 and 23 February will escalate to three, four and five day strikes in the following weeks (26-28 February, 5-8 March, 12-16 March).

On 23 January, the Joint Negotiating Committee (JNC), the establishment for deciding changes to the USS scheme, voted in favour of Universities UK’s proposal to scrap the element of pensions that guarantees members a certain level of income in retirement.

UCU says this would leave a typical lecturer almost £10,000 a year worse off in retirement than under the current system.

UCU general secretary Sally Hunt stated that staff were ‘let down by vice-chancellors who seem to care more about defending their own pay and perks than the rights of their staff’.

She added that ‘Strike action on this scale has not been seen before on UK campuses, but universities need to know the full scale of the disruption they will be hit with if they refuse to sort this mess out’.

In a statement released by the Students’ Union, the Sabbatical Officers said: ‘We believe that the pensions of hard working staff and the future of academia as a profession should be protected.’

Regarding the impact of the strike on students, they added ‘We recognise that for some of our members, particularly PGR students, changes to USS may have a direct impact on them and their futures. We are keen to understand their views on the issue and encourage these members to contact us.’

‘Our priority is minimising the disruption to students and we will be working with academic departments to ensure that any negative impacts of the strike are mitigated.’