UCU pauses strikes for two weeks

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The University and College Union (UCU) have paused the strikes at 150 universities for two weeks after a breakthrough in negotiations.

In a video on social media, Jo Grady, General Secretary of the UCU, said: “To allow our ongoing negotiations to continue in a constructive environment, we have agreed to pause action across our pay and working conditions and pensions disputes for the next two weeks and create a period of calm.”

The strikes on February 21, 22 and 23, as well as next week’s February 27, 28, and March 1 and 2 will not go ahead, however, the plans for further strike days remain in place.

The UCU are holding separate simultaneous negotiations with the Universities and Colleges Employers Association (UCEA) and Universities UK (UUK) on USS pensions.

According to the UCU, they have made progress on pensions, zero-hour contracts, casualisation, workload, and pay.

“The Employer Representative UCEA are currently consulting their members with a recommendation that they give them a mandate to end the use of zero-hour contracts on campus,” said Grady, who calls the contracts “one of the worse forms of insecurity”.

In a joint statement, the UCU and UUK said the upcoming valuation of the USS pension scheme is likely to restore pension benefits to the levels before the cuts in April last year and reduce pension contributions.

That would mean USS pension scheme members would pay a smaller portion of their salary towards the scheme but eventually receive more money in the form of a pension.

Grady said progress had also been made in the negotiations over removing the lowest pay grade and increasing the pay for other grades.

Finally, the UCU are continuing to negotiate over improving work-life balance, reducing workloads, and eliminating pay gaps.

From Wednesday on, the UCU is holding a re-ballot, which would give them a mandate for further six months of strike action, as required by trade union laws.

Featured Image Credit: UCU Stirling on Twitter

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Fourth year journalism student at the University of Stirling and Brig's politics editor.

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