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As planned strike action draws to a close, UCU says employers must get back round the table

24 March 2011 | last updated: 11 December 2015

UCU said today that the university employers had to get back round the table and negotiate with UCU in an escalating row over pensions.

UCU members in around 500 universities and colleges have been on strike today in the culmination of a week of action that has seen five strike days. UCU members in 67 universities across the UK started the action last week opposing changes to the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) pension.

The action started in Scotland last Thursday (17 March) and was followed by one-day stoppages in Wales on Friday (18 March), Northern Ireland (Monday 21 March) and England (Tuesday 22 March). As the action kicked off, a leaked letter revealed that no changes to the USS pension scheme can be implemented unless UCU thrashes out a deal with the employers. More on that can be found at: University pension changes cannot be implemented without deal, warns leaked letter

The union says it is willing to clear its diary to talk to the employers and has invited them for talks through the arbitration service ACAS. However, despite pressure from the National Union of Students who has supported UCU's strike action, the employers' representatives, the Employers Pension Forum (EPF), are still refusing to talk to the union.

Today UCU members in the 67 USS universities were joined by colleagues in the former polytechnics (post-92 universities) and further education colleges, who are part of the Teachers' Pension Scheme, for the first UK-wide strike action in universities for five years and in further education since 2008.

UCU said the day had been a huge success and apologised again to students who had seen their studies disrupted. The union said it shared students' frustrations and urged them to keep putting the pressure on EPF to join the union for talks.

Reports and photos from rallies and pickets around the UK, including the bizarre eviction of pickets at Manchester Metropolitan University, have been coming in all day.

UCU general secretary, Sally Hunt, said: 'The action we have seen today across the country has been quite magnificent. The support of students for our action has left the employers looking isolated and foolish. We share students' frustrations that today's action was forced upon us by the intransigence of the employers. We have no interest in their reasons for refusing to talk to us so far, we just want them to change their mind and start talking to us now. This dispute can go nowhere unless we start talking.'

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