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Hundreds of Norwich university staff members could walk out, as strikes over pensions confirmed

University of East Anglia. Picture: Antony Kelly

University of East Anglia. Picture: Antony Kelly

Archant Norfolk 2016

Hundreds of employees at a Norwich university - including lecturers and instructors - could walk out in strikes over pensions.

The University of East Anglia (UEA) will be one of 61 institutions around the country which will be affected by the University and College Union (UCU) strikes next month.

From February 22, the union’s members will begin 14 days of strikes over a four-week period, with negotiations over Universities UK’s (UUK) changes to pension schemes failing to reach an agreement.

The UCU says the changes would leave a typical lecturer almost £10,000 a year worse off in retirement.

While the strikes could see as many as 596 UEA employees walk out, the university has moved to reassure students, saying its focus was “protecting our students’ education experience”.

At UEA, 392 UCU members voted - 66pc of the total 596 members. Of those, 87pc - 341 - backed strike action, and 13pc - 50 - did not.

Union members can include lecturers, trainers, administrators and managers - so the impact is not yet clear.

But, at its very most, it could see almost 600 members of staff walk out - almost 18pc of the university’s total 3,347 employees - which is likely to affect thousands of students.

A university spokesperson said: “Our focus is very clearly on protecting our students’ education experience and ensuring that they feel supported during this time - while we recognise people’s right to withdraw their labour we will put contingency measures in place to support students in their studies.”

They said they “recognise the needs of all sides”.

“Our students are at the heart of our university and we will do all we can to protect their education experience now and in the future,” they added.

“We will work with the Students’ Union to ensure students have as much information as they need during this time.”

Norwich University of the Arts will not be affected.

The University of Suffolk, in Ipswich, is one of seven universities balloting its members again after failing to meet the government’s 50pc turnout requirement before action can be allowed.

According to the UCU website, anyone who works as a lecturer, trainer, instructor, researcher, administrator, manager, computer staff member, librarian or postgraduate can join.

The union’s walk-outs will begin on Thursday, February 22 and Friday 23, with three days planned on Monday 26, Tuesday 27 and Wednesday 28, four days on Monday, March 5, Tuesday 6, Wednesday 7 and Thursday 8.

Five days of walk-outs will begin on Monday, March 12.

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