Belfast Telegraph

Queen’s University and University of Ulster staff to strike over pensions row

Thousands of Northern Ireland’s students will miss out on classes on Monday as university staff are set to strike.

Professors, lecturers and teaching assistants will take to picket lines at Queen’s University Belfast and the University of Ulster in protest against plans to change pension programmes currently controlled by the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS).

The University and College Union said: “The dispute centres around employers’ attempts to force through proposals which would reduce pension benefits and increase costs even though USS is in robust financial health”.

UCU general secretary Sally Hunt added: “Strike action is always a last resort and we have always wanted to meet the employers to avoid widespread disruptions on campus. However, both sides had to be prepared to go that extra mile and the employers clearly weren’t.

“I share the frustration that students must be feeling at the employers’ intransigence.”

But the Employers Pensions Forum said members of the UCU have missed and, in some cases, refused to attend vital meetings to discuss amending proposals it felt were agreed by both sides last July.

The EPF denied claims that the scheme is without financial difficulty and cited longer life expectancy as a cause of financial planning difficulties.

The forum also said that, given the global economic climate, it was surprised by the strike action against changes which it said will only affect new scheme members.

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