Mick Antoniw AM is supporting University staff in their industrial action.  The following short statement was prepared for delivery in the National Assembly for Wales today, but not selcted for discussion:

In Wales, we recognise the cultural, political, social and economic benefits of having world class universities.

The University of Wales when it was established was known as the penny university, funded by the pennies of Welsh workers.

Education is the route to greater equality and economic prosperity, a truth succinctly displayed on NUM lodge banners that read ‘knowledge is power’.

The strength of any educational establishment is dependent upon commitment and quality of its students and critically, of its staff – the lecturers and researchers who provide the academic foundation to our Universities.

It is therefore a tragedy that throughout the UK tens of thousands of University staff are on strike, resisting a unilateral change by Universities UK to their pension scheme. In some cases it will mean pension values reducing by 40%.

The methodology on which this proposal is based has been questioned by many on both sides of the dispute and has come under sustained criticism from economists, statisticians and accountants.

The dispute has now been referred to ACAS.

On Monday I had the honour of joining members of UCU on their picket line. They ask for one thing. An independent review, leading to genuine negotiations.

I think this is a reasonable request and I encourage members to support them in their struggle. I encourage the Welsh Government to do all it can to encourage genuine and I repeat, genuine negotiations to achieve a resolution of the dispute.