Traffic delays in Leeds city centre as university staff stage two-day protest in pensions row

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DRIVERS face delays in Leeds city centre today and tomorrow when striking University of Leeds staff stage protest action in a row over pensions.

Today (Thurs Feb 22) and tomorrow strikers will set off from the university's Parkinson Steps entrance at 12pm and march to Victoria Gardens by Leeds Art Gallery for a 12.30pm rally.

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Marchers will follow a route via Clarendon Road, Woodhouse Lane, Albion Street and the Headrow before arriving in Victoria Gardens

Police officers will be deployed to supervise traffic.

The marchers are members of the University of College Union, who are participating in a national walk-out due to a row over pensions.

There will also be picket lines at the university from 8am onwards.

Members of the University and College Union (UCU) at the University of Leeds are walking out as a wave of strikes hits 64 institutions across the UK in a row over pensions.

Speakers today include university staff and the president of Leeds TUC Jane Aitchison.

Tomorrow they will be joined by Leeds North West MP Alex Sobel.

The university is among 64 institutions, including Sheffield, Hull and York, that will be hit with 14 days of strikes over the next four weeks if the dispute over changes to staff pensions is not resolved.

The dispute centres on proposals to end the defined benefit element of the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) pension scheme. UCU says this would leave a typical lecturer almost £10,000 a year worse off in retirement than under the current set-up.

UCU rep at the University of Leeds Vicky Blake said: “Nobody wants to take strike action, we feel we have no choice. These hardline proposals would slash staff pensions and are simply uncalled for.”

A university spokesperson said: “While only a minority of our staff are members of the UCU, we are planning for every eventuality, and our priority is to minimise any disruption to students, including through asking striking staff to reschedule their teaching.

“There is a general consensus about the need to tackle the pension deficit – which is in the billions – and doing so now gives us a better chance of delivering a scheme that is sustainable and stable, as well as valued and fair, particularly to younger staff. We already make a standard contribution to staff pensions of 18 per cent of salary and this will continue.”

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