College lecturers set to strike

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LECTURERS in South Tyneside will strike this week in a row over changes to pension schemes and pay cuts.

South Tyneside College staff at the South Shields and Hebburn sites confirmed they will join the University and College Union (UCU) members all over the country on the picket line on Thursday.

The strike will be the first nationwide walkout in three years.

Jonathan Spink, branch secretary for the UCU, said members would be on the picket line encouraging other members of staff to follow suit.

He added: “UCU members at the college are taking part in a national strike over the coalition government’s attacks on our pay and pensions.

“On pay, we have once again fallen behind the awards given to our schoolteacher colleagues.

“On pensions, we are fighting simply to protect the rights we thought we had signed up to when we joined.

“Rather than be cowed by the coalition propaganda that the public sector is out of step with the private on pensions, we are sending a clear message that we are proud of our jobs. If society values the work we do then it should value those who carry it out.

“Our pensions are affordable. It is pure opportunism on the part of the government who would be pursuing an ideological agenda if the proposals were to go ahead.” College staff have staged protests over pay and conditions several times in recent years, but have not been on strike since 2008.

UCU members across the country voted for full strike action to defend their pay and members in higher education called for job security.

Principal Lindsey Whiterod said: “During the proposed strike action, South Tyneside College will be open to learners and do their upmost to minimise any disruption.

“The discussions around the proposed changes to the pension scheme are part of a wider Government review of public sector pensions.

“As a college, we are sympathetic to our employees’ concerns relating to public sector pensions and the impact any proposed changes may have in the long term.”