BREAKING: Pensions dispute settled
Despite opposition from the Cambridge UCU branch
A second wave of strikes – which was planned for April, May, and June – has been suspended after UCU members voted 2 to 1 to accept UUK's newest proposal. The national ballot saw a record 63.5% turnout.
In this new proposal, employers have committed themselves to defined benefits, stated that it is not their intention to end the guaranteed pension, and have agreed to discuss other issues with UCU including inter-generational fairness, parity with the Teachers' Pension Scheme, and the government's role in supporting USS.
Although UCU and UUK must now garner accord and support from the USS Board and the Pensions Regulator, the Union expects "the agreement between the fund's two key stakeholders to be welcomed".
Sally Hunt, the UCU General Secretary, has spoken in support of this settlement and praised the striking workers. "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. UCU has more work to do to ensure that the agreement delivers the security in retirement that university staff deserve. On behalf of all UCU members I want to say thank you to students and other staff for their inspiring support throughout the dispute."
Despite widespread UCU support for the new proposal, the Cambridge branch is less pleased. On April 11th, it recommended for its members to vote 'No' in the ballot. It argued that the UUK proposal "offers little assurance about the future of our pensions after April 2019".
Instead, Cambridge UCU believed that the union’s "strategy should be directed solely towards winning the best settlement possible for USS members. This might involve seeking to add a ‘no detriment’ clause to the UUK proposal, but it might be equally appropriate to demand other assurances about the pensions terms on offer or the workings of any Joint Expert Panel."
In a tweet, Cambridge UCU expressed "disappointment" but directed attention to all that was "achieved" throughout the strike process.
Despite Cambridge's dissatisfaction, a settlement has been reached and the strikes are suspended, bringing relief to students across the country who will be sitting exams in the upcoming term.