UCU tells UCEA to ‘stop spinning and start talking’ on pensions

The University and College Union (UCU) has called on university employers to “stop spinning and start talking” on pay and pensions.

The union has urged the Universities and Colleges Employers Association (UCEA) to agree to talks with UCU and Universities UK (UUK) following the call from Shadow Education Secretary Angela Rayner for talks to resume in an effort to solve the issues.

Yesterday (8 October), both UUK and UCU said that they were willing to meet and discuss a potential solution to the ongoing disagreements.

Universities have backed proposals to increase Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) member contributions from 8.8 per cent to 9.6 per cent of basic salary and employer contributions up to 21.1 per cent.

However, UCU had been demanding that any contribution increases were borne by the employer.

UCU also claimed that reports published by the UCEA were “misleading” and that they downplayed the significance of the problems with pay and contracts in the sector.

Commenting, UCU general secretary, Jo Grady, said: “This latest attempt by the employers to downplay the extent of casualisation in the sector is totally disingenuous.

“The reality is that a third of academic staff are on fixed-term contracts and thousands more are employed on precarious ‘atypical’ contracts.

“The time has come for the employers to stop spinning and start talking. Instead of downplaying the problems at hand, the employers should pay heed to Angela Rayner and commit to serious negotiations.

“Time spent obscuring the facts would be much better spent finding long-term, sustainable solutions to the structural problems facing the sector.”

UCU is currently balloting its members on whether to take industrial action after universities backed the proposals, while smaller employers have also voiced their concern that they will not be able to meet the contribution rates.

However, UUK has also previously accused UCU of “peddling misinformation” to its members on negotiations regarding the changes to contribution levels.

UCEA has been contacted by Pensions Age for comment.

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