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University of Southampton UCU votes to strike

Further disruption in the university due to unwanted changes made to the pension scheme

The University and College Union (UCU) released an article reporting that changes to pensions in the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) will lead to wide-spread disruption in universities across the country due to overwhelming support for industrial action. The article lists sixty-one universities which could be affected, including the University of Southampton.

The results for Southampton showed that 87.5% voted to strike and 92.4% voted to take action short of a strike (out of 730 people).

Full strike action has been planned to take place over these fourteen days:

February: 22, 23, 26, 27, 28
March: 5, 6, 7, 8, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16

The University also states that action short of a strike will begin from 22 February until as late at 18 June. This action consists of staff working only to contract, "not covering for absent colleagues, not rescheduling lectures or classes cancelled due to strike action, and not undertaking any voluntary activities."

The Daily Echo also released an article, quoting Ian Woodland, Southampon's Unite regional co-ordinating officer, who said: "For a typical employee in mid-career, the reduction could reduce their future service pension by two-thirds."

They also referenced Adrian Dolby, the Unison representative at the university who added: "Staff are overworked and feel undervalued… Now they hear their pension is under attack. This could be the final straw."

This follows soon after the Vice Chancellor released plans to cut up to 75 jobs at the University. These drastic changes are putting the staff under increased pressure and overwhelming stress. Moreover, as students, it is also worth considering the impact this might have on your faculty and degree – any changes to the University will ultimately always affect us.

The University has released a statement for students on SUSSED: "Our primary concern is that our students are not disadvantaged by this proposed action and that there is minimal disruption to your studies and progression. The University is working hard with your representatives on the Students’ Union (SUSU) and other colleagues to put in place effective contingency plans, so that you can continue with your studies as planned.
You should continue with your studies and preparations for assessments as normal."

So this is what it has come down to: the slug and stalemate of strike action. Better keep an eye on this one.

Food for thought.