Employers strike deal with UCU leaders in USS pension talks

Employers strike deal with UCU leaders in USS pension talks

University staff have rejected a pensions deal that was struck by their union after weeks of strikes.

University staff opposed to the deal announced on Monday evening have pushed for a more "decisive victory".

"UCU undertakes to encourage its members to prioritise the rescheduling of teaching in order to minimise the disruption to students."
Further disruption to the examination period was also threatened by strikes.

The maintenance of detailed benefits would be supported by higher contributions by both employers and employees, rising from 18% to 19.3% for employers and from 8% to 8.7% for employees.

An open letter from staff opposing the deal had argued that it was only postponing long-term decisions about the pension scheme and called for industrial action to continue to "force a more decisive victory".

"Furthermore, the UCU is effectively calling on us to both reschedule as well as calling off the action before having put it to the membership, two positions that are absolutely unacceptable".

Given concerns expressed by many universities and UCU about the scheme's valuation methodology, which triggered concerns of a £6.1 billion deficit and UUK's proposal to end defined benefits, an independent expert valuation group would be convened to look into the issue.

The interim arrangement says that the transitional period for which higher contributions would need to be paid would be implemented on April 1 2019 and last for three years.

It concluded: "The work outlined above demonstrates a commitment by both parties to work together and avoid damaging disputes in the future".

University strikers have turned down an agreement reached by university union leaders and employers to end the pensions dispute.

The row centred on proposals that would change the pension from a defined benefit scheme, which gives workers a guaranteed income in their retirement, to a defined contribution scheme, in which pensions are subject to fluctuations in the stock market.

A meeting of union officials is expected to take place later today and, should the interim proposals be sanctioned, the strikes could be suspended from tomorrow.

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