The University and College Union (UCU) and the Universities UK (UUK) group have agreed further talks which will be mediated by Acas, the industrial conciliation service.

This came after a two-hour meeting in London on 27 February, in which UCU put forward the following ‘affordable proposals’:

  • Universities accept a small amount of increased risk through a return to the risk level USS proposed in September 2017 – something the majority of institutions were happy with
  • The limit on salary counting for defined benefits remaining unchanged at £55,550
  • Annual accrual rate reduced from 1/75th to 1/80th
  • Contributions would increase by just 4.1 per cent (split 65/35 between employers and employees) rather than the 8.3 per cent estimated cost of UCU’s previous proposal – an increase in contributions of 2.7 per cent for employers and 1.4 per cent for USS members
Monday’s demo outside Universities UK (spot the IWGB banner in the background)

Welcoming the arbitrated talks, UCU said the planned strikes will continue across the UK. A further four days are scheduled to begin on 5 March.

There have been massive picket lines across the country – this is in Glasgow

Sally Hunt, UCU general secretary, said the union is pleased employers have agreed to more talks. ‘At the core of our proposals is for universities to accept a small amount of increased risk, but only at a level a majority have recently said they are comfortable with. Doing this would enable us to provide a decent, guaranteed pension at a more modest cost with smaller contribution increases.

‘UCU has been impressed by the ideas of many vice-chancellors who have intervened in the dispute. Our proposals for long-term reform reflect an attempt to reach a consensus around the challenges we face.’

IWGB members sheltering from the wind and snow after Wednesday’s march!

In her daily message to members she urged them to keep up the pressure.