Strike lecturers out to make their point

PICKET LINE ... South Tyueside College lecturers strike.
PICKET LINE ... South Tyueside College lecturers strike.

UNION representatives say strike action in South Tyneside yesterday made their point.

Lecturers at South Tyneside College manned the picket lines for the first time in three years in a row over pension changes and pay scales.

University and College Union (UCU) members at the Hebburn and South Shields sites joined lecturers across the country in their protest against attempts to raise the retirement age, increased pension contributions from 6.35 per cent to 7.5 per cent of earnings, and an end to the final salary element of the scheme for new members.

They are also objecting to a 0.4 per cent pay increase, and claim lecturers pay should be closer to that of teachers.

South Tyneside College reported that about 30 per cent of lecturers were not in class yesterday.

Jonathan Spink, UCU branch secretary, said he was pleased with the response.

He said: “We managed to get a few vehicles to turn around and not cross the picket line. There was a good camaraderie and it was a pretty good atmosphere.

“There were plenty of our members on the picket line and plenty more who stayed at home. The car park yesterday was significantly emptier, and there weren’t a lot of students turning up.”

He added: “I think the strike made an impact, and our presence was definitely felt. No one wanted to do this but unfortunately that’s what it has come to.

“We are at the beginning of this fight. I am sure the pressure will grow. We’ve got to keep the pressure on.”

South Tyneside College principal Lindsey Whiterod said: “Approximately 30 per cent of our workforce was affected by the strike yesterday. This resulted in disruption to some classes, however, the college remained open so learners could access our resources and study facilities.

“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.”