Scientists join in protests against pension cutbacks

PUBLISHED: 10:47 01 December 2011

Rothamsted Research Centre, Harpenden.  Strike 301111.

Rothamsted Research Centre, Harpenden. Strike 301111.


IT’S been three decades since their last strike, but that did not stop scientists at a Harpenden research centre from downing microscopes, petri dishes and imaging machines to join yesterday’s national day of action.

Scientists attended a picket outside Rothamsted Research as professional civil servants from more than 120 organisations joined forces with others in the public sector striking against the Government’s pension changes.

Julian Franklin, chairman of Prospect, a union representing scientists and others in areas such as agriculture and the environment, said that picketing staff appreciated Harpenden motorists who tooted their support.

He added: “Pensions are one of the elements that staff do get upset about, because it’s something that is going to affect them at the end of their working life.

“Scientists do not get paid huge salaries, so they want to live comfortably when they retire.”

He said the picket was being held for the first time in 32 years to allow scientists to express their feelings about the government’s implementation of planned cuts in pension provision.

Mr Franklin, head of horticulture at Rothamsted, added: “Prospect has tried to reach an agreement and has only reluctantly balloted for strike action.”

Rothamsted is the longest running agricultural research station in the world, providing cutting-edge science and innovation for nearly 170 years.

About 400 scientists work at the Harpenden-based centre.

While around half of the staff turned up to work yesterday, others either supported the strike or stayed home to look after children who were unable to attend school because of teacher walk-outs.

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