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Universities Face Strike Action Over Pension Reforms

Posted by Richard Ward in , ,

Image courtesy of Flickr, Creative Commons

It looks increasingly likely that planned strikes by members of the University and College Union will go ahead next month after failed talks.

The planned strikes are in relation to changes to lecturers' pensions which could cost academics an average of £200,000 each.

Earlier this week the University and College Union announced 14 days of strikes starting in February, which look more likely than ever to go ahead after the Universities Superannuation Scheme voted to press ahead with the pension changes.

The proposals are to change pensions from a defined benefit scheme, providing a guaranteed income during retirement, to a defined contribution scheme, which are subject to changes in their value.

In total, 61 universities could be affected by the changes, with voters overwhelmingly in favour of action, while seven institutions saw a turnout below the required 50%.

Staff at all 68 universities are members of the pension scheme, which last year was reported to have a £17.5bn deficit, although UCU disputed the figure suggesting it undervalued the scheme.

A Universities UK spokeswoman suggested a solution to funding had to be found, adding: "We should be under no illusion, this is not a problem that will go away if ignored.

"Without reform now, universities will likely be forced to divert funding allocated from research and teaching to fill a pensions funding gap.

"The option of no reform is a dangerous gamble. It is a risk that employers cannot take."