College and uni staff strike over pensions and pay

IMG_3718.JPGMembers of the University and College Union took strike action across the UK today to protest at changes to pensions and pay cuts.

Staff from Tower Hamlets College, Greenwich University and University of East London took to picket lines over what they believe to be unfair increases in their pension contributions and moves to raise the retirement age.

This afternoon teachers and lectures will take their protest on a march to Downing Street.

Richard McEwan, 31, lecturer at Tower Hamlets College in Poplar High Street, said: "The latest changes will see up to a nine per cent reduction in our pensions and as a young lecturer I will not now be able to retire until I'm 68. We also did not see a pay rise this year so I am going to be about five per cent worse off and I will have to make an additional £80-£100 in pension payments a month.

"We want to win on pensions and pay but we are also fighting for education - we have fought jobs cuts for the last five years, Education Maintenance Allowance funding has been cut, all arts and humanities funding has been taken away and 500,000 students won't get in to University this year and those that do, will leave with around £83,000 worth of debt.

"There is a really hostile environment surrounding education the moment."

The strikes come ahead of Saturday's union-organised march in central London against public sector cuts which is expected to attract more than 100,000 people.