Last week the University and College Union (UCU) announced that its members will vote on whether to take strike action in connection with pensions, pay and conditions. Their membership includes staff across academic and professional services at our University.
We do not yet know if members will vote in favour, or if any strike action will take place. However we wanted to make you aware of the situation and explain the issues further, as we know if strike action is called this could impact our students.
One of the issues over which UCU may call strike action is changes to pensions.
We want our staff to have access to an attractive, affordable and sustainable pension which will provide for their retirement, as part of an overall package that makes our University a great place to work.
As part of Universities UK (the organisation which represents universities at a national level) we have been working hard to achieve a scheme that still provides attractive benefits, while remaining affordable and sustainable for all. These negotiations take place at a national level – universities (including ours) are not able to take decisions on this issue individually.
As a result of this work, the USS Trustee (which is the independent, legal owner of the pension) has agreed to proceed with the employers’ proposals . Failure to do so would have meant very substantial increases in payments for staff (to 11% of their salary) and universities (to 23.7%) in October and two further increases next year. It is clear that these increases would be imposed if an agreement is not reached now.
However, the UCU has decided to ballot its members as it believes staff in the scheme are facing a cut in their final pension of up to 35%, however Universities UK and our University do not agree with that conclusion.
Clear information on our position has been sent to all staff. Those people affected by changes will also receive an accurate and impartial explanation of the potential impact from the USS Trustee during formal consultation.
Director of Human Resources, Karen Heaton said: “We urge the UCU to work with UUK on behalf of the many employers in the USS. In addition we are concerned that strike action would affect our students’ experience, taking away the opportunity to learn after many difficult months.
“It is disappointing that UCU intends to ballot its members on the USS pension when we have all worked hard to achieve the best outcome possible. We are obviously concerned that strike action will have a further damaging effect after a significantly disrupted 18 months.”
We will update you as soon as possible after the vote result is published on 5 November, once we have more information on what strike action (if any) may be called and what effect this could have on our students.
If any strike action does takes place, we will keep you informed and supported throughout.
For further information: