27 universities to face further strike action over USSwritten by Bella Palmer
According to the union, around 79.5 per cent of those balloted voted to back strike action, whilst 88.1 per cent voted for action short of a strike
Twenty-seven UK universities could face further strike action and action short of a strike in relation to concerns over proposed changes to the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS), after the latest round of ballots from University and College Union (UCU).
According to the union, around 79.5 per cent of those balloted voted to back strike action, whilst 88.1 per cent voted for action short of a strike, showing growing support compared to similar ballots in November 2021, when 76 per cent backed strike action.
A new mandate for both strike action and action short of a strike was secured at 24 universities, meaning that staff at 27 universities now have a mandate to take strike action on pension issues until October 2022, with existing mandates already live at Queen's University Belfast, Ulster University and Queen Mary University of London.
However, a total of 65 universities were included in the pension ballots, with the 24 universities that achieved a mandate representing just 37 per cent of the branches polled reaching the legal 50 per cent turnout threshold required for industrial action.
In light of the results, the union has confirmed plans to hold a special higher education sector conference on the USS dispute on 27 April, with members and branches invited to discuss and vote on how the new mandate for action might be used.
Commenting in response to the latest ballot results, a spokesperson for UUK also emphasised that the necessary reforms to conclude the 2020 valuation of USS have now been implemented.
Employers are focused on enhancing the scheme for the future and look forward to working with scheme members to develop lower-cost options for members, consider alternative scheme designs, and conduct a thorough governance review of USS with independent, external expertise, they stated.
Despite this, UCU general secretary, Jo Grady, argued that university vice chancellors ‘should be under no illusion at how disgusted staff are at the attacks on their pensions’.
The cuts are unjust, unnecessary and with eight in ten staff voting in favour of strike action it is clear the anger has not gone away, she continued.
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