Falmouth University staff vote to strike over 'two-tiered' pension system

University and College Union (UCU) members at Falmouth University have voted in favour of strike action due to the creation of a 'two-tier workforce' that enrols new employees to a “greatly inferior” pension scheme.

The union stated that Falmouth University had created a subsidiary, Falmouth Staffing Ltd (FSL), to employ all academic staff “under worse employment terms” than existing staff.

UCU said that all academic staff employed since September 2021 have been denied access to the Teacher’s Pension Scheme (TPS), which has employer contributions of 23.6 per cent, and have instead been given access to the FSL scheme, in which employer contributions start at 6 per cent.

UCU warned that the creation of the 'two-tier workforce' has had implications for all staff, as the subsidiary company was not part of national bargaining arrangements between unions and the University and Colleges Employers Association.

Also, the union has said that the imposition of FSL could be “the thin end of the wedge” for an erosion of terms and conditions across the board.

The vote received an overall turnout of 62 per cent, more than the 50 per cent threshold required by government legislation, and 90 per cent of UCU members voted yes to the strike action.

Falmouth UCU branch co-chair, Tom Scott, commented: “Belonging to a union is all about solidarity, and that is precisely what management’s unilateral action aims to undermine.

“So, we are delighted that our members have emphatically rejected management’s two-tier workforce. Pensions are deferred pay and refusing this valuable benefit to new employees is an attack on the hard-won national agreements that all staff should benefit from.

“No one at Falmouth takes industrial action lightly, and we still hope that wiser counsel will prevail with management. But in this situation, we feel a red line has been crossed with very serious implications not just for individual member of staff but for the future of the university as a whole.”

UCU has said that the votes’ result is an “emphatic rejection” of Falmouth University’s plans.

Commenting in response, a University of Falmouth spokesperson said: “We are disappointed by this news, but are continuing our conversations with UCU representatives."

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