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Universities face 14 days of strikes during exams if pension dispute not resolved

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Universities across the UK will be hit with another 14 days of strikes around exam time if the pensions dispute is not resolved. Sixty-five institutions face another wave of strikes as members of the University and College Union (UCU) keep up the pressure on universities to sort the row over changes to their pensions.

The union’s higher education committee (HEC) met today (Thursday) and sanctioned another 14 days of strikes, if necessary, designed to hit the exam and assessment periods between April and June. UCU said it would now gather information on when the 14 days of action would be most effective at different universities.

UCU members are taking their ninth day of strike action today and will be on strike all of next week (12-16 March).

UCU general secretary Sally Hunt said: ‘I want to stress that I consider all this a necessary precaution against the failure of talks to deliver an acceptable settlement.

‘The union would prefer dialogue and I have given my personal commitment to Acas that UCU is serious about reaching an agreement. However, if talks fail, we are prepared to carry out the action in defence of our pensions.’

UCU members are on strike over plans to end the defined benefit element of the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) pension scheme. UCU says this would leave a typical lecturer almost £10,000 a year worse off in retirement than under the current set-up.

The universities’ representatives – Universities UK – had sought to impose the changes and refused to negotiate. In response UCU members started the first wave of 14 days of escalating strikes on Thursday 22 February.

That action brought Universities UK back to the negotiating table and both sides are now in talks through the conciliation service Acas with more talks scheduled for tomorrow (Friday).

 

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Emma Victoria Jewkes

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