UCU plans new strikes over pensions

04 Feb 2020

Lecturers and members of British university staff are working with a trade union to plan another strike. The disagreement is about pay and pensions, which universities are claiming that they cannot increase.  

“If universities want to avoid further disruption, they need to deal with rising pension costs, and address the problems over pay and conditions. We have been clear from the outset that we would take serious and sustained industrial action if that was what was needed,” said Jo Grady, general secretary of the University and College Union (UCU).

The planned strikes will affect over 1 million students, whose classes will be cancelled or postponed. They will be spread over 14 days, starting on February 20th, taking place at 72 British universities. 

Previous strikes on pay and pensions took place at the end of last year, disrupted 60 higher education institutions. 

The UCU claims that talks between them and the Universities and Colleges Employers’ Association (UCEA) failed to progress in relation to pay. 

Further strikes may be called in the coming six months, the UCU warned, if talks do not restart. 

However, the strikes come as a surprise for the UCEA, who believed that the talks involved “significant positive proposals” for the UCU to consider.  

University academics and members of staff were told to pay for rises in pension in 2019, which the UCU is expecting the employers to cover the latest addition. 

“We regret that UCU are planning further strike action at a time when positive talks on the future of the [pension] scheme are making significant progress and are ongoing,” stated Universities UK. 

“Despite this, UCU continue to request that employers pay still higher contributions at unaffordable levels.”

9.6% of the employees’ salary has started to be taken out for the pension plan – therefore losing out on almost £30 monthly. This compared to the employers’ rise, going from 21.1% to 23.7%.