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Sheffield lecturers strike to continue after talks break down

Students supporting the strike action.
Students supporting the strike action.
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Lecturers at the University of Sheffield are to continue strike action in a row over pensions after talks to end the dispute broke down.

The University and College Union today rejected a proposal drawn up at crisis talks with Universities UK, which represents higher education institutions.

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The union said planned strike action and action short of a strike at more than 60 higher education institutions across the UK, including at the University of Sheffield, will continue.

Staff completed nine days worth of a planned 14 day walk out in February and March. The union announced that an additional 14 days worth of walk outs are now due to take place on dates to be fixed between April and June.

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Disruptions are expected for students as this will be during the middle of a period of assessments and exams. The university's students' union has previously backed the strike action.

UCU general secretary Sally Hunt said: "Branches made it clear today that they wanted to reject the proposal. UCU’s greatest strength is that we are run by and for our members and it is right that members always have the final say.

"The strike action for this week remains on and we will now make detailed preparations for strikes over the assessment and exam period.

"We want urgent talks with the universities’ representatives to try and find a way to get this dispute resolved."

The dispute centres on a proposal by UUK to end the defined benefit element of the Universities Superannuation Scheme pension scheme.

UUK said the scheme is in deficit and the only way to make it sustainable is to change it from a defined benefit scheme, giving members a guaranteed income in retirement, to a defined contribution scheme, where pensions are subject to changes in the stock market.

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But members of the UCU insist the existing scheme is performing well and claim the new set up would leave a typical lecturer almost £10, 000 a year worse off in retirement.

A spokesperson for the University of Sheffield declined to comment.