Open University workers in Milton Keynes strike over pensions

13 March, 2018, 20:10 | Author: Wade Massey
  • Agreement in bitter universities' pension dispute paves way for end of strike action

The strikes over proposed changes to the pensions of university staff is now into its fourth week and had led to lectures being cancelled in more than 60 universities.

An agreement was last night reached between lecturers' leaders and university officials over their bitter pensions dispute - potentially paving the way for strike action to be called off.

The petition continues, "Furthermore, the UCU is effectively calling on us to both reschedule as well as calling off the action before having put it to the membership, two positions that are absolutely unacceptable".

The response dashes hopes of an end to industrial action that has seen thousands of academics strike in protest at changes the University College Union claims would cost them £10,000 a year after retirement.

"We've had some great support over the past few days".

"The strike action for this week remains on and we will now make detailed preparations for strikes over the assessment and exam period".

"We want urgent talks with the universities' representatives to try and find a way to get this dispute resolved".

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The deal - facilitated by by the UK's workplace arbitration service ACAS - involved a three-year "transition" period from 1 April 2019. Any staff earning above that threshold would have accrued additional benefits in a defined contribution scheme. This includes a total employer contribution of 19.3% of salaries and a total member contribution of 8.7%.

In a statement, a Universities UK spokesperson described the UCU's decision as "hugely disappointing".

He said the deal had been jointly agreed by union and employers as a "mutually acceptable way forward".

UCU branches across the United Kingdom took to Twitter to declare a mass rejection of the agreement less than 24 hours after it was made public.

The change was an attempt to address a funding gap in the scheme.

The Financial Times has reported that "the settlement, which will have to be approved by UCU members, means the union will now nearly certainly not go ahead with plans, announced last week, to disrupt end-of-year exams with a series of strikes between April and June", adding that 'UCU's branch representatives, the heads of the union's local groups, and its higher education committee will meet on Tuesday to discuss whether formally to call off the strike action.


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