Negotiations between the University and College Union (UCU) and Universities UK (UUK) ended on Monday 12 March, with both parties agreeing to a revised benefit plan following a three-year ‘transitional benefit arrangement’. UCU negotiators will meet with the Higher Education Commission (HEC) and UCU Branch representatives tomorrow, the outcome of which could see the 14 day strike prematurely end.
UCU negotiators and UUK have agreed to a transitional period lasting three years, commencing on 1 April 2019, which will maintain the current defined benefits (DB) arrangement. During this period, both parties have agreed to ‘meaningful discussions’ to explore and arrange ‘risk sharing alternatives’, which will see university employees shifted into defined-contribution plans. Such plans provide no guaranteed pension amounts and may see many pension sums dramatically reduced. As part of the settlement, UCU and UUK have agreed to form an independent valuation group to review proposed pension plans.
The meeting with the HEC and UCU Branch representatives tomorrow will determine whether or not strikes will continue as planned.
UCU began industrial action on 22 February, in response to UUK’s proposed changes to the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS). Under these changes, it has been estimated that university staff across the UK could lose up to 40% of their total pension sum.