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UCU rejects agreement to end strike

Image: Owain Evans

The UCU’s Higher Education Committee, following the views of branches from across the country, has rejected the agreement made yesterday that would have seen the USS pensions dispute come to an end.

As a result, the strike will continue this week, and the 14 days of approved action during the exam period will remain on the table.

The deal faced extensive opposition from striking academics around the country, including the UCU’s branch in Exeter. Barrie Cooper, branch President, told Exeposé that: “the committee of the University of Exeter UCU met and agreed unanimously that our position is to maintain the status quo, and we will be advising our national negotiators to reject the proposals.

“The amount being paid into the USS pension fund is more than enough to pay the benefits promised provided those monies are invested properly, and the changes to benefits implemented less than two years ago as part of a 17-year plan agreed by all parties appear to be working.”

The deal would have seen academics encouraged to reschedule teaching, despite being docked pay, as well as providing reduced benefits with increased contributions. It has also been roundly criticised for its lack of support for Graduate Teaching Assistants, many of whom are the worst hit by this dispute.

Sally Hunt, the UCU General Secretary, said in a statement that: “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.”

In an email sent to all students this morning, prior to the deal being rejected, Sir Steve Smith, the University’s Vice-Chancellor, said: “the University welcomes this development and looks forward to a resolution in the coming days.

“We need to look at the details but our first impression is that it is an agreement that we are willing to support.”

As a result of the union’s rejection of the deal, it will no longer go to the Joint Negotiating Committee tomorrow.



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