Ipswich: Teaching staff join nationwide pension strike
Striking lecturers gathered at the entrance to Suffolk New College today in protest at national changes to the teachers pension scheme.
Teaching staff at Suffolk New College oppose a planned revision to their pension scheme, which could raise the retirement age, increase contributions for members and end the final salary element of the scheme.
Members of the University and College Union (UCU) said a two tier system of benefits would be created under the proposal.
The UK-wide action has seen lecturers at 500 universities and colleges involved in the first national strike for five years.
Tens of thousands of members formed picket lines at universities including Cardiff, Glasgow, Oxford, Liverpool, Manchester and several in London.
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The strike was expected to disrupt lectures and studies of students nearing the end of the academic year.
In Ipswich, upon receiving a letter of support from the Trades Union Congress, UCU branch chairman Jean Nial said: “This has nothing to do with the college - it is a national strike over pensions. They want to more or less double our contributions, to as much as �80 a month from our pay.
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“They want to increase the retirement age and pay us less when we do retire. It’s horrendous.
“We know of two staff who have already been forced out of the pension scheme and will have to rely on their state pension alone. In the long run, they will have to ask the government for more benefits.
“It’s a shame it has come to this but we have to make our voices heard.”
By late morning, the group had collected 500 signatures, which they planned to deliver to the office of Ipswich MP Ben Gummer.
UCU general secretary Sally Hunt said strike action was “a last resort” but added that the proposed changes to pensions and pay had created “real anger”.
At West Suffolk College a small crowd gathered outside the building waving placards against the pension changes.
A spokeswoman for the college branch of the UCU said: “Staff are not in dispute with their local college management but with a government who are proposing changes which will destroy our pension scheme” say union representatives at the college.
Vice Principal Martyn Wagner said: “There has been some disruption to some classes and those students are either working in the library or at home.”
See tomorrow’s paper for the full story and reaction.