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UCU says it remains ready for talks in university pensions row

22 February 2018

UCU has welcomed reports that Universities UK (UUK), which represents universities, may finally be ready to restart negotiations over changes to the USS pension scheme. The union said that if UUK was serious about proper negotiations then it was happy to meet any time.

UUK has come under increasing pressure from staff, students, its own vice-chancellors and politicians to get back into talks with UCU. Today both Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and universities minister Sam Gyimah called for talks. Mr Gyimah proposed "talks without preconditions" and UCU said it would be happy to meet on that basis.

Back in November UUK presented proposals to axe the defined benefit system of the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) pensions and has since refused to move from that position.

Then a month ago it said the matter was closed, saying the proposal put forward by UUK on pension reform had been "agreed". However today UUK released a video saying there had in fact been no agreement on how best to tackle the pensions problem. It also seemed to suggest in a press release that it was keen to talk. 

UCU general secretary Sally Hunt said: 'I have made it clear from the start of this dispute that this mess can only be resolved by negotiation. We have been calling for talks for weeks either directly or through Acas, so if UUK are willing to now meet without preconditions with a view to resolving this dispute this good news. 

'Students should never have been put in this position. I would like to thank the universities minister Sam Gyimah, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and student leaders for the pressure they have put on universities to start negotiating again. We wait to see what UUK has to say.'

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