Members of Staff at Southampton University are currently on strike due to a dispute over pensions. I want to express my support and solidarity with all those out on strike.
I know that staff have not taken the decision to strike lightly, nor do they want to disrupt the education of their students, but they have been left with no other choice.
Up to this point Universities UK have refused to negotiate the terms of the changes to the USS pension scheme. As it stands some members of staff expect to see their pension pot reduced by 40%. Many staff made a decision to go into an academic career believing they would be able to retire with a secure pension. They believed that because it’s what they were told. Now they face the threat of insecurity in their later years.
I hope that this action encourages Universities UK to take the UCU’s counter proposals seriously.
I am holding an adjournment debate this afternoon regarding shore to ship power and how the Government can support its introduction in ports across the UK, including Southampton.
Southampton is home to one of the UK’s largest ports and the main home in the UK for cruise ships. Although there are many positive aspects to this fact, it is no secret that these ships contribute to our city’s poor air quality.
Shore to ship power is a simple and relatively low cost alternative to big ships running their diesel engines for the whole time they are in port. Studies that have been done in the US showed that ships using shore power in one location saved 99% of their nitrous oxide emissions and between 60 and 70% of particulate emissions.
To the credit of Southampton port, they are investigating whether they can install facilities in one cruise liner berth, but as far as I know they are alone in this pursuit.
In my debate today I will ask the Government to provide assistance to provide the infrastructure needed for shore to ship and it should give notice of an intention to mandate the use of these plugs by a specified date.
Southampton should not be put in the position, if it proceeds with shore power, of ‘going it alone’. It will be far more powerful both for making the case to ports and for ensuring that ships are properly equipped to use shore power if everyone knows that the UK is on course to oblige such supply.