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