Strikes to continue as UCU reject proposed deal

Deal struck in university pensions row

Agreement in bitter universities' pension dispute paves way for end of strike action

The action has disrupted studies at more than 60 universities and strikes have seen lectures cancelled and threats to end-of-year exams and assessments.

University strikers have turned down an agreement reached by university union leaders and employers to end the pensions dispute.

"Liverpool UCU call on all branches to reject this unacceptable offer and demand that UCU ensure a deal is brought about that is commensurate to the sacrifice of their members", the branch said.

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Union leaders threatened last week to stage another series of strikes during the important exam and assessment period in April and June.

University staff are staging a protest at the UCU headquarters in north London today to show their dissatisfaction with the interim arrangement - where higher contributions would need to be paid for three years from April 2019. This includes a total employer contribution of 19.3% of salaries and a total member contribution of 8.7%.

Strikes will continue as planned this week and the examination period is under increasing threat of further disruption, after the University and College Union (UCU) rejected proposals to suspend strikes this evening.

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In a statement, a Universities UK spokesperson described the UCU's decision as "hugely disappointing". "The jointly developed proposal on the table, agreed at ACAS, addresses the priorities that UCU set out".

Since USS' triennial actuarial valuation was published a year ago along with a number of other estimates of the scheme's funding position, academics, unions and universities have debated the validity and accuracy of the different figures put forward to illustrate USS' liabilities.

A spokesman for the UCU said the agreement would be considered by its higher education committee and branch representatives on Tuesday.

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'I am writing to tell you that I have asked for and received Council's approval for the University to make higher pension contributions to support a Defined Benefit pension in the USS.We believe the continuation of Defined Benefit is the right short term resolution to the current impasse. "The group will consider issues of methodology, assumptions and monitoring, aiming to promote greater transparency and understanding, and will take account of the real strengths, sustainability and viability of the scheme".

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