Further strikes are expected to occur following the decision of the Universities College Union (UCU) Higher Education Committee (HEC) to reject the settlement devised by UCU and Universities UK.
An agreement on both sides was reached on Monday under ACAS, a mediating body. The agreement package was classified as a defined benefit arrangement which would commence from April 1st, 2019 for a period of three years. A defined benefit pension scheme is where the amount members are paid is based on the salary and the number of years worked with the employer.
The most notable features of this package included:
- A minimum salary threshold of £42,000.
- A reduction in accrual rate to 1/85th – the accrual rate refers to the proportion of the final salary in which members receive every year they are a member of the scheme.
- This proposal would have required the employer to make a greater contribution of 19.5% over the three year period and the member 8.7%.
- As a consequence, strike action would be suspended from Wednesday 14th March.
Full details of the proposal can be found here.
Whilst an agreement in principle was reached between UUK and UCU negotiators, it still had to be ratified by UCU members. According to the UCU general secretary Sally Hunt, members rejected it because the proposed defined benefit was at too low a level (only the first £42,000 of salary) as well as the proposed reduction in accrual rate being deemed unacceptable.
As a consequence, strikes that were scheduled on Thursday and Friday will go ahead as planned. UCU has called for a further 14 day period of industrial action – occurring in the assessment and examination period.
The Guild and have released a statement highlighting the issues with the agreement as well as their continuing support of striking lecturers:
” The dispute, involving 64 universities, has seen support for the strike come from not only staff but, importantly, students. We are so proud of the number of students who have actively engaged in the action. Significantly, a large number of Vice-Chancellors across the country have come out to support the striking staff and their calls for renegotiations.”
Full UCU statement: