Further universities back UCU strike action

Staff at a further 14 universities are eligible to join strike action following reballots, UCU has confirmed, bringing the total number of universities at risk of taking strike action to 74.

The strike ballots closed at 36 universities on 28 January, with 80 per cent of members backing strike action over the ongoing pension dispute, and 76 per cent voting for to strike over pay and conditions.

A total of 47 universities are now eligible to take strike action over both disputes, with a further five universities eligible for strike action in relation to the USS pensions dispute only.

Discussions between Universities UK (UUK), UCU and the University Superannuation Scheme (USS) took place throughout this month, with the fifth and final meeting held yesterday (29 January).

UCU general secretary Jo Grady said: “We have been clear from the outset that we are prepared to take serious and sustained action to defend pay and conditions, as well as our pensions, and these latest results show that members are just as determined as ever.

“Our higher education committee meets tomorrow to consider next steps in both disputes and will respond to the offer from the employers and discuss the latest from the talks on USS.”

Responding to the announcement, a UUK spokesperson, representing USS employers, said: “We believe the best way forward is to work collectively and constructively to secure a pension scheme that is highly valued by members and affordable for all.

“The current tripartite talks between UCU, USS, and UUK, which are set to continue at least until March, are making good progress on building a shared understanding on the future of the scheme, jointly developing governance reforms and considering alternative pathways for the 2020 valuation.”

“While we understand that some additional UCU branches have now backed industrial action following re-ballots, we hope that further strikes can be avoided and that our constructive discussions on the future of the scheme can continue”.

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