UCU welcomes intervention in pensions dispute

by - 14th October 2011, 16.26 GMT

The UCU has welcomed an intervention by Universities UK (UUK) in the pensions dispute that saw industrial action begin at 67 UK universities on Monday.

UUK said it would “welcome proposals from UCU” at a pensions meeting on Thursday 27 October. Since March 2011, university employers have told UCU that they will not return to the negotiating table and have instead imposed detrimental terms on the pensions of members of the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS).

The union said students would expect both sides to find a way to resolve the dispute and pledged to do all it could to reach an agreement without the need to escalate the industrial action which began with ‘working to contract’ on Monday.

The dispute is about changes to the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) pension scheme – the second largest private scheme in the UK. Scheme members are furious that changes they vehemently opposed were imposed on 1 October. Those changes will see them pay more to work longer with less protection should they lose their job.

In two referendums over 90% of scheme members who voted, voted against the changes and in the industrial action ballot over three-quarters (77%) of UCU members backed the sustained industrial action campaign.

UCU general secretary Sally Hunt said: “We have made it clear throughout this dispute that we want a negotiated settlement. However, since March the employers have refused to talk to us. You cannot negotiate with an empty chair which is why I welcome this intervention by Universities UK, which represents all the institutions affected by the dispute.

“I know that many universities have been unhappy with the hardline position taken in their name since March. Hopefully, if UUK’s intervention is a serious attempt to break the impasse, we can now try to get this dispute sorted without the need for an escalated industrial action.”