UCU says strikes now look like a reality as pension talks end

23 January 2018

‚ÄčStrikes at 61 universities have become much more likely today (Tuesday) after talks over the future of the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) ended without an agreement between representatives from UCU and Universities UK (UUK).

The chair sided with the employers' representatives and their plans to transform the scheme from one with a guaranteed retirement income to a defined contribution scheme where pension income is subject to changes in the stock market.

The union said it was disappointed that the talks ended with the changes being imposed on USS members. It added it was surprised that more talks had also been dismissed after UUK said yesterday it hoped to avoid industrial action through further talks with UCU.

UCU general secretary Sally Hunt said: 'Staff will feel utterly betrayed by their leaders. We are disappointed at how talks ended today, particularly after UUK suggested yesterday that it wanted more talks to avoid strikes. Universities must be on notice that unless there are dramatic changes in their negotiators' position then strike action will be arriving on campus next month.

'There is much talk of a crisis of leadership in higher education at the moment, especially after the recent vice-chancellor pay and perks scandals. Now is the time for university leaders to recognise the scale of this problem, how angry their staff are and to work with us to avoid widespread disruption in universities.'

Following a ballot result announced yesterday where UCU members overwhelmingly backed strike action, the union said it would now firm up the start dates for a series strikes at 61 universities next month.

The union's action will also see members work to contract, refusing to cover classes or reschedule those lost to strike action. Members at the seven universities that failed to meet the 50% turnout threshold to allow them to take action will be balloted again.

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