UCU members have voted to bring months of industrial action and uncertainty to a close after voting to accept the terms set out by the UUK, as they continue to propose pension scheme changes. Having come to a close, the result of the e-ballot put to members of the UCU last week to vote on the continuation of industrial action after the Easter break was announced on Friday 13th April.
Based on a turnout of 63.5%, 21,683 members (or 64% of voting members) chose to accept the offer from UUK, against 12,230 (or 36%) voting to reject it. The result means that there will be no further strike action for the rest of the academic year, with planned strikes in May and June being suspended. There will be no further disruption to teaching activities or assessments relating to such action, and summer congregations will also take place as planned.[pullquote]
"Our priority is to ensure that we can mitigate the impact of the industrial action as far as possible, and that you can be supported and assessed fairly and without detriment"
Professor Chris Day, Newcastle University Vice-Chancellor[/pullquote]
The proposal from Universities UK will establish a panel of experts to review the current pension scheme and put forward future changes, and "will require maintenance of the status quo in respect of both contributions into USS and current pension benefits, until at least April 2019."
The general secretary of UCU Sally Hunt said: "Members have participated in record numbers in the consultation, with a clear majority voting to accept the proposals."
"Now we have agreement to move forward jointly, looking again at the USS valuation alongside a commitment from the employers to a guaranteed, defined benefit scheme. USS, the regulator and government now need to ensure that UCU and UUK have the space to implement the agreement effectively."
Vice Chancellor Professor Chris Day has welcomed the result, telling students: "This is a very welcome outcome and means that the possibility of further disruption to teaching in the current academic year is over and that all our staff, who provide such excellent teaching, supervision, support and guidance to our students, will resume normal duties". However, Day also expressed concern for students regarding the impact of the industrial action on studies, and asserted that "our priority is to ensure that we can mitigate the impact of the industrial action as far as possible, and that you can be supported and assessed fairly and without detriment."