Credit: Kirsten Colligan

UCU calls for strike action after staff face pension cuts

By Kimberley Mannion

The proposed industrial action could see University of Glasgow lecturers striking in November.

The University and College Union (UCU) have called industrial action “inevitable” after Universities UK (UUK) voted to approve plans to cut retirement benefits scheme. 

Under the new plans lecturers, on the average pay band,  will see a 35% loss in the guaranteed pension benefits accumulated over the rest of their career in academia. Benefits will only be protected against inflation up to 2.5%, down from the current rate of 5%. The decision has been made to avoid cuts as employer and employee contributions will remain the same. 

The UCU’s alternative proposition, which was rejected, would have meant staff received greater benefits in return for lower contributions than those put forward by employers. The union also wanted low paid staff and those on insecure contracts to be able to access the scheme for the first time. However, UUK claims that UCU did not mount a counterproposal before the vote. As a result, the UCU is now calling for an extra month of negotiations between both employers and pension members. Employer and 

Delegates met on 9 September to discuss the union’s steps going forward. The results of the voting will be published in the coming week. The section specific to the University of Glasgow states that “industrial action is necessary to defend the Defined Benefits (DB) scheme”. The Union calls for a ballot to be held between 24 September and 25 October, with proposed strikes to commence the week of 11 November. 

In a statement on the UCU website, its general secretary Jo Grady said: “UCU’s proposals would have provided a safe and equitable stop-gap solution until a new valuation is carried out, which should be at the earliest opportunity. Sadly employers have chosen to use a flawed valuation conducted at the start of the pandemic to rush through cuts to members’ pensions. Unless employers allow for rapid consultation on our proposals with a view to revoking their decision today, the path looks inevitably to lead to industrial action – and that is the responsibility of UUK.”


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