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UCU sets out plans for strike action over pensions

2 March 2011

UCU today said universities faced rolling industrial action from Monday 21 March if the current row over the future of staff pensions could not be resolved.

UCU members of the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) pension scheme at 67 universities were balloted for strike action and action short of a strike. Taken overall, two-thirds (64.55%) of UCU members who voted, voted for strike action and over four-fifths (82.19%) voted for action short of a strike.
Members at institutions that voted for action will be asked to strike against the detrimental proposals from university employers to reduce pension benefits and increase costs even though USS is in robust health. More information on the dispute can be found at: USS changes - key questions
The union said that strike action remained a last resort and called on the employers to join it for urgent talks through the conciliatory service ACAS. However, the union warned that if the dispute was not resolved then negotiators would recommend two weeks' rolling strike action from Monday 21 March, with each individual member taking two days' action.
If the talks fail, this means in effect that universities will be hit with up to two days' industrial action each. Exactly when the action will take place during the two week period will be determined by individual institutions' term dates. The union said it had to act quickly as the employers plan to bring in the changes to the pension scheme on Friday 1 April.   
UCU general secretary, Sally Hunt, said: 'Considering the limited timetable we had to ballot, this is a fantastic result and a clear mandate for action should the employers push ahead with their plans to impose the damaging changes to the pension scheme.
'Strike action is always a last resort and we want to avoid any disruption to our universities which is why we have engaged in talks today. I will go to every length possible to resolve this dispute and hope the employers will agree to go the extra mile too. However, UCU members have made it quite clear today that if a settlement is not possible, they are prepared to strike to defend their pensions.'


  • Turnout in the ballot for industrial action over pensions was 36.32%
  • Only institutions where members voted in favour of strike action will be called on to take action - a full list is at the end of the notes
  • The union also balloted its members in higher education for strike action and action short of a strike on the issue of pay and job security. Over half (52.62%) of members who voted, voted for strike action and three-quarters (73.53%) voted for action short of a strike
  • The turnout in that ballot was 34%
  • The union's higher education officers will meet on Thursday 10 March to discuss the next steps for the pay and job security ballot
  • The 63 institutions that voted in favour of strike action on the issue of pensions are:
    The University of Aberdeen
    Aberystwyth University
    University of Bangor
    University of Bath
    Queen's University of Belfast
    University of London, Birkbeck College
    The University of Birmingham
    University of Bradford
    University of Bristol
    Brunel University
    University of Cambridge
    Cardiff University
    City University
    Courtauld Institute of Art
    Cranfield University
    The University of Dundee
    Durham University
    University of East Anglia
    University of Edinburgh
    University of Essex
    University of Exeter
    The University of Glasgow
    University of London, Goldsmiths
    Heriot-Watt University
    The University of Hull
    Imperial College London
    University of London, Institute of Education
    The University of Kent
    King's College London
    University of Wales Lampeter
    University of Lancaster
    The University of Leeds
    University of Leicester
    University of Liverpool
    London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine
    London School of Economics
    Loughborough University
    The University of Manchester
    Newcastle University
    The University of Nottingham
    Open University
    University of Oxford
    University of London, Queen Mary
    University of Reading
    University of London, Royal Holloway
    The University of Salford
    University of London, School of Pharmacy
    University of London, Senate House
    The University of Sheffield
    University of London, SOAS
    University of Southampton
    University of St Andrews
    The University of Stirling
    University of Strathclyde
    University of Surrey
    University of Sussex
    Swansea University
    University of Ulster
    University College London
    University of Warwick
    University of York
Last updated: 4 April 2019