University staff pensions deal collapses

14 Mar 18

A deal that could have ended the strikes over university staff pensions collapsed in less than a day.

Strikers have now warned they will target assessments and examinations to cause maximum impact.

Employers body Universities UK and the University and College Union held six days of talks with conciliation service Acas to try to resolve the dispute over moving from defined benefit to defined contribution pensions.

Under the deal, unveiled yesterday morning - but rejected by UCU members by mid-afternoon - there would have been a transitional benefit arrangement which “maintains a meaningful level of defined benefits for all scheme members” for three years.

This would have required employers and members to pay higher contributions, at 19.3% and 8.7% of salaries respectively.

An independent expert valuation group would examine UCU concerns about the valuation methodology of the Universities Superannuation Scheme.

Both sides also agreed to explore risk-sharing alternatives after 2020, in particular including collective defined contributions.

UCU general secretary Sally Hunt said: “Branches made it clear today that they wanted to reject the proposal.

“UCU's greatest strength is that we are run by and for our members and it is right that members always have the final say.

“The strike action for this week remains on and we will now make detailed preparations for strikes over the assessment and exam period. We want urgent talks with the universities’ representatives to try and find a way to get this dispute resolved.”

A UUK spokesperson said: "It is hugely disappointing that students' education will be further disrupted through continued strike action.

“We have engaged extensively with UCU negotiators to find a mutually acceptable way forward. The jointly developed proposal on the table, agreed at Acas, addresses the priorities that UCU set out.”

The two sides are due to talk again today. 

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