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University of Nottingham staff to strike over pension cuts and working conditions

Staff at the University of Nottingham will strike again over cuts to pensions and what they say are deteriorating working conditions.

University and College Union members will strike for 10 days in February and March following on from a 3 day strike that happened in December.

The union members say that that real-terms pay of university staff has declined by 20% since 2008.

They also believe that across higher education the gender pay gap is 15% and disabled, black and ethnic minority staff still experience pay discrimination.

Changes to the USS (Universities Superannuation Scheme) pension could mean that staff lose up to 35% of their pension depending on length of service, they claim.

There are also concerns over the use of fixed-term contracts.

Agnes Flues, President of University of Nottingham UCU said: “Yet again we are having to take strike action, because the employers refuse to rethink the totally unjustified cuts to our pension. This is only one problem eating away at our universities.

“A third of academic staff are on casual contracts; women and black and ethnic minority staff face continuing pay discrimination; staff across the sector have had a 20% real-terms pay cut since 2008. Striking is always a last resort, but employers leave us no alternative.”

The 10 day strike will take place across February 14 to March 2.

A University of Nottingham spokesperson said: “The University of Nottingham is among 68 universities across the country that will experience industrial action by members of the University and College Union (UCU).

“The University will remain open throughout the industrial action and the vast majority of teaching and learning will proceed as usual on the designated strike days. Students should assume that lectures, seminars and classes will take place unless notified otherwise.

“Schools will explore options to reschedule any sessions affected by industrial action, provide learning resources, extend deadlines where helpful and ensure that assessments reflect the learning that has taken place.

“There is a £15 billion gap between the USS pension’s current funds and promises to future pensioners. Without reform, staff would face increases in how much they pay into the pension of 12% in April and a further 17% in October 2022 – an extra £858 in pension costs over the first twelve months for someone earning £40,000 – with contributions set to rise further every six months until 2025.

“Proposals to reform the scheme have been consulted with scheme members – backed up by an additional £1.3 billion support from employers – which would keep the pension affordable for members and retain defined benefits rarely seen in other schemes.

“We are working hard to close our pay gaps, replace casual contracts and are spending an additional £6 million this year to alleviate workload pressures and improve working conditions.”

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