University staff accept revised USS proposals; DB to continue

Members of the University and College Union have voted to accept Universities UK’s revised proposals for the Universities and Superannuation Scheme, which will see the continuation of the defined benefit aspect of the scheme.

In an update published today, 13 April, by the UCU, the union revealed that a second wave of strikes, due to begin next week, and to continue into May and June, has been suspended, as well as action short of a strike. The result was 64 per cent in favour of UUK’s offer, and 36 per cent against, with a turnout of 63.5 per cent.

The accepted offer will see a joint expert panel set up to re-examine the USS valuation and make recommendations. It has also been agreed that the employers do not intend to return to their original proposals to end the guaranteed pension, have made a clear commitment to defined benefits and agreed to discuss a wide range of issues raised by UCU.

These will include inter-generational fairness, comparisons with the Teachers' Pension Scheme and the role of government in providing support for USS.

UCU and UUK will now jointly present the plans to the USS board and The Pensions Regulator. The union said it expected the agreement between the fund's two key stakeholders to be welcomed. However, it said that, while all planned strike action is suspended, UCU will keep its strike mandate live as a precaution until this has process taken place.

UCU general secretary Sally Hunt said: 'Members have participated in record numbers in the consultation, with a clear majority voting to accept the proposals. The union has come a very long way since January when it seemed that the employers' proposals for a defined contribution pension were to be imposed.

“Now we have agreement to move forward jointly, looking again at the USS valuation alongside a commitment from the employers to a guaranteed, defined benefit scheme. USS, the regulator and government now need to ensure that UCU and UUK have the space to implement the agreement effectively.

“We hope this important agreement will hearten workers across the UK fighting to defend their pension rights and was won through the amazing strike action of UCU members.
“UCU has more work to do to ensure that the agreement delivers the security in retirement that university staff deserve. On behalf of all UCU members I want to say thank you to students and other staff for their inspiring support throughout the dispute.”

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