Further strikes suspended as UCU members accept deal

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Credit: Harry Williamson

Members of the University and College Union (UCU) have voted to accept a deal offered by Universities UK (UUK), suspending any further strike action.

There was a record 63.5% for the ballot, in which 64% voted to accept the deal, compared to 36% who voted to oppose it.

The deal proposes a joint panel equally made up of representatives from UCU and UUK to discuss any issues raised with proposed changes to pension plans.

An article released by the UCU said employers would not return to the original Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) deal, which would change pension plans, and that employers would be committed to examining a number of issues, such as inter-generational fairness and the government’s role regarding pensions.

UCU General Secretary Sally Hunt said: “Members have participated in record numbers in the consultation, with a clear majority voting to accept the proposals.

“The union has come a very long way since January when it seemed that the employers’ proposals for a defined contribution pension were to be imposed. Now we have agreement to move forward jointly, looking again at the USS valuation alongside a commitment from the employers to a guaranteed, defined benefit scheme.

“USS, the regulator and government now need to ensure that UCU and UUK have the space to implement the agreement effectively. We hope this important agreement will hearten workers across the UK fighting to defend their pension rights and was won through the amazing strike action of UCU members.

“UCU has more work to do to ensure that the agreement delivers the security in retirement that university staff deserve.

“On behalf of all UCU members I want to say thank you to students and other staff for their inspiring support throughout the dispute.”

Sally Hunt also wrote to UCU members thanking them for their participation in the ballot, and for their support for the UCU throughout a “historic dispute”.

The Independent reported the National Union of Students UK President Shakira Martin also commented on the ballot, saying: “We are pleased to see a deal has been reached. Students have wholeheartedly chosen to support their staff during this dispute, and we have seen inspiring displays of solidarity on campuses across the UK since day one.”

This decision means that strikes which were due to take place over the summer exam period have now been suspended and will not go ahead.

The proposed changes to pensions brought about 14 days of strike action in 65 universities across the UK.

Despite the deal going ahead, the UCU has said they will keep their strike mandate live as a precaution.

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