STRIKING staff at Aberystwyth University have received the backing of Ceredigion politicians as industrial action escalates in a row over pensions.
The Cambrian News reported “Members of the UCU union at the institution manned picket lines along with 60 other universities across the UK in an ongoing battle over changes to the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) pension scheme, which has already seen staff walk out in 2011 and 2014.
Staff, who say the changes will cost lecturers thousands of pounds a year in retirement, marched in protest down Penglais Hill on Tuesday for a public meeting at the Morlan Centre.
Speakers at the event were local UCU president Joe Ironside, Plaid Cymru councillors Talat Chaudri and Mark Strong, and Labour councillor Dinah Mulholland.
Staff – who will walk out again next week as talks between the unions and the Universities UK (UUK) umbrella group continue to stall, have received messages of “full support” of Ceredigion’s MP and AM Ben Lake and Elin Jones, who were both unable to attend the meeting.
Mr Lake told staff they “deserve good pensions and working conditions,” and that “any attack on those conditions is also an attack on the quality of education that students receive.”
“Downgrading the pension scheme is not only a betrayal of the good faith and dedication of university staff, but it will also undermine the sustainability and quality of higher education in the future, hindering our ability to recruit and retain such committed staff for future generations,” he said.
Aberystwyth University, which said that it could not comment on the progress of talks which are taking place on a “national level”, said it “continues to do everything it can to minimise disruption and “are keeping students informed”.
“We recognise the right of our staff to take industrial action and were grateful for the good-natured manner of those taking part in the strike,” a university spokesperson added” here.