Members of the University College Union have voted in favour of accepting a set of proposals aimed at ending the ongoing academic pension dispute. Further industrial action (including action short of a strike), planned for the summer turn, has been suspended as 64% of votes expressed favour towards accepting the deal on 13 April. In the meantime, meetings will go ahead between UCU, UUK, the USS Board and the Pensions Regulator aimed at finding a solution to the issue.
“Further industrial action… has been suspended”
The conflict started over changes to the University Superannuation Scheme (USS) only shortly into a seventeen-year cycle, a change UUK claims are due to a multi-million-pound deficit in the scheme. A first UUK proposal was rejected by UCU members, however, and the full-fourteen days of strike action in the Spring term went ahead.
A further deal was then given to the UCU earlier this month, and was put to a membership ballot. Not everyone was happy with this decision, with Exeter UCU calling for Sally Hunt’s resignation in an Extraordinary General Meeting on 4 April. The Exeter branch was dissatisfied with the proposal being put to a ballot– placing the blame not on UUK but on the UCU leadership.
Hunt has also been criticised by UCU members, both in and out of Exeter, for several emails to the membership which included her own personal view in favour of a ‘yes’ vote. Exeter PHD candidate and lecturer Rhian Keyse expressed her disappointment at the leadership for this decision, on twitter and suggested that the deal was ‘surely not what we have struggled so hard for’. Hunt said of the ballot result: ‘We hope this important agreement will hearten workers across the UK fighting to defend their pension rights and was won through the amazing strike action of UCU members’.