The University and College Union (UCU), the recognised trade union for lecturers and academic support staff at Edinburgh University, have balloted to strike on Thursday the 17th and Thursday the 24th of March over regressive changes to the USS (Universities Superannuation Scheme) pension plan.

Students from Edinburgh University Anti-Cuts Coalition will be joining lecturers on their picket lines in solidarity.

We are a large group of students campaigning against cuts, through direct action and the lobbying of Edinburgh University management and Scottish parliamentarians, with our primary focus being on education cuts. Alongside informing fellow students and the public on the impact cuts will have locally and nationally, alongside possible alternatives.

Edinburgh students have also been heavily involved with UKuncut.

We are calling for our fellow students to email their lecturers in support, to boycott classes on the day and to join lecturers on the picket lines. Alongside informing students on the reasons behind the dispute.

A rally has been called by UCU Edinburgh in Bristo Square at midday on Thursday.

We have planned further action for the day. (Check our Twitter feed for updates on the day)

The strike on the 17th will coincide with strikes at 7 other Scottish Universities over the same dispute.

The following Thursday, the 24th, Edinburgh UCU members will strike again alongside 62 other institutions across the UK unless management re-engage in negotiations.

These changes will cost lecturers at the start of their career more than £450,000 in total expected benefits and reduce their annual pension by nearly one-third whilst an existing scheme member aged under 55 in similar circumstances will see their total expected benefits fall by £150,000.

Mike Williamson, Vice-President Academic Affairs elect of Edinburgh University Students’ Association(EUSA) said “In the long term the proposed pension plans will negatively affect the quality of lecturers attracted to the profession. A number of our postgraduates are UCU members, whilst many students will also be entering the sector after graduating. It is critical that we stand by our lecturers, and send a clear message to University management through supporting this strike.”

Jaye Ware, an Edinburgh University Sociology student, said “The proposed scheme will disproportionately affect women through punishing those taking career breaks. Further widening gender inequality in University staffing and pay.”

Mike Holmes, Edinburgh University UCU Pensions Officer said of the changes [In reference to £450,000 figures and £150,000 figures – see above]:

“Those numbers neatly bracket the sorts of houses we all live in and, given what we’re all being asked to give up, it led me to the simple question “Would I Give My House to Save a Banker?”.

I decided “Hell No!” and put my X on the form. I’ve paid for my pension, I value my pension, and I’ll be on the picket line on the 17th and 24th to defend my pension. If you feel at all the same way, please join me there.”

For more information on the strike, visit UCU Edinburgh’s website.