University staff overwhelmingly back strike action in USS pensions row
22 January 2018
Sixty-one universities (see list below) could face widespread disruption next month after UCU members overwhelmingly backed industrial action in a row over changes to their pensions in the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS).
Overall, 88% of UCU members who voted backed strike action and 93% backed action short of a strike. The turnout was 58%^. A full breakdown of the results by institution is available here.
The union's higher education committee is meeting now to discuss the results and plan an industrial action strategy should talks about the future of the scheme fail to deliver a solution. Those talks are currently scheduled to finish tomorrow (Tuesday).
Universities UK (UUK) wants to transform the scheme from a defined benefit scheme that gives a guaranteed retirement income to a defined contribution scheme where pension income is subject to changes in the stock market.
Independent modeling of the proposals show that a typical lecturer would lose £200,000 in retirement if the UUK plans were imposed. Last week the vice-chancellors of Warwickand Loughborough universities broke ranks to criticise UUK for failing to guarantee retirement incomes for USS members.
The union said it hoped that the overwhelming mandate for strike action would focus universities' minds and that more vice-chancellors would publicly pressure UUK to agree a deal. UCU said it was happy for talks to be extended in an attempt to resolve the issue without strike action.
The union said that two rounds of cuts in USS benefits since 2011 have already left USS members with pensions worth less than those of school teachers and academics in the sector's other pension scheme, the Teachers' Pension Scheme.
UCU general secretary Sally Hunt said: 'UCU members have made it quite clear that they are prepared to take sustained strike action to defend their pensions.
'USS already offers worse benefits than other schemes available in universities, and UUK's proposals would make matters worse. I hope more vice-chancellors will pressure their negotiators to work with us to resolve the matter without strike action.'
Aberdeen, The University of
Bath, University of
Birkbeck College, University of London
Bristol, University of
Cambridge, University of
City, University of London
Courtauld Institute of Art
Dundee, The University of
East Anglia, University of
Edinburgh, University of
Essex, University of
Exeter, University of
Glasgow, The University of
Goldsmiths, University of London
Hull, The University of
Imperial College London
Institute of Education
Kent, The University of
King's College London
Lancaster, University of
Leeds, The University of
Leicester, University of
Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine
Liverpool, University of
London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine
Manchester, The University of
Nottingham, The University of
Oxford, University of
Queen Mary, University of London
Queen's University Belfast
Reading, University of
Royal Holloway, University of London
Royal Veterinary College, University of London
Salford, The University of
Senate House, University of London
Sheffield, The University of
SOAS, University of London
Southampton, University of
St Andrews, University of
Stirling, The University of
Strathclyde, University of
Surrey, University of
Sussex, University of
University College London
Scottish Association for Marine Science (University of the Highlands and Islands)
University of Wales
University of Warwick
University of York
^ The overall figure includes institutions that are required to secure a 50% turnout to be able to take action (universities in England, Scotland and Wales). Queen's University Belfast and Ulster University do not require a 50% turnout. Members in all 68 branches that were balloted voted for action. Of those, seven did not achieve the 50% turnout required.