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January, 2018:

Strikes to commence 22 Feb 2018

UCU announces 14 strike dates at 61 universities (including here at Essex) in pensions row

29 January 2018

Strikes will begin on Thursday 22 February

UCU has written to 61 universities to inform them of an escalating wave of strikes over a four-week period that will begin with a five-day walkout either side of a weekend. There will then be four days of strikes from Monday 5 – Thursday 8 March and a full five-day walkout the following week (12 – 16 March). The strike dates are:

Week one – Thursday 22 and Friday 23 February (two days)

Week two – Monday 26, Tuesday 27 and Wednesday 28 February (three days)

Week three – Monday 5, Tuesday 6, Wednesday 7 and Thursday 8 March (four days)

Week four – Monday 12, Tuesday 13, Wednesday 14, Thursday 15 and Friday 16 March (five days)

Last week talks between UCU and the employers’ representative Universities UK (UUK) ended without agreement and UUK’s plans to transform the scheme were forced through by the chair’s casting vote.

The dispute centres on UUK’s proposals to end the defined benefit element of the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) pension scheme. UCU says this would leave a typical lecturer almost £10,000 a year worse off in retirement than under the current set-up.

In the recent strike ballot UCU members overwhelmingly backed industrial action. Overall, 88% of 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.

UCU general secretary Sally Hunt said: ‘Staff who have delivered the international excellence universities boast of are understandably angry at efforts to slash their pensions. They feel let down by vice-chancellors who seem to care more about defending their own pay and perks than the rights of their staff.

‘Strike action on this scale has not been seen before on UK campuses, but universities need to know the full scale of the disruption they will be hit with if they refuse to sort this mess out.’

Essex UCU are holding meetings at University of Essex to plan this industrial action. See your branch email today. With questions from Essex UCU branch members pertaining to industrial action please email  ucu-strike-action@ucumail.essex.ac.uk

Strike action looks necessary says GS (24 Jan 2018)

Remember: keep up to date via: https://www.ucu.org.uk/strikeforuss

Members updated on hard-line employer stance

24 January 2018

UCU’s general secretary Sally Hunt has updated members on the implications of the employers’ stance during the latest negotiating meeting and their refusal a find a solution which would not end guaranteed USS pensions.

The outcome of the meeting is that strike action by members is looking increasingly necessary.

She writes:

‘Yesterday we met with Universities UK (UUK) at the Joint Negotiating Committee.

I want you to know that we made multiple attempts to engage with them to find a solution but they would not move an inch from the proposal to end the guaranteed pension.

The result is that this appalling proposal, which will cost staff many thousands of pounds in lost retirement income, has taken one step closer to imposition.

USS will now begin a consultation with fund members with a final decision made by the board at the end of June 2018. There are further negotiating meetings which will take place between now and June at which UCU will continue to fight the proposal to end the guaranteed pension.

In my view, the hard-line position taken so far by UUK on behalf of your university is a betrayal of higher education staff.

So having tried to achieve a negotiated solution, now we must take industrial action.

I say that knowing that action for you will always be a last resort.

But if we do not stand and fight now we will lose the right to a decent retirement income forever.

Arising from the magnificent ballot result the Higher Education Committee has called for fourteen days of strike action, starting with two days a week and escalating upwards, along with action short of a strike which will include a refusal to reschedule classes lost due to the dispute.

The strike action is expected to begin on Thursday 22nd February except in institutions who have reading weeks who may start the week after.

We will be writing to your employer to tell them that without an acceptable national outcome the responsibility to make good your pension loss will fall to them and that action will continue until they finally meet that responsibility.

The work that you do in our universities is what makes them – still – wonderful places to be for students. It is on the back of your endeavour that vice-chancellors boast about their global reputation and reap big rewards. You deserve decent treatment and yet at the moment your concerns are being treated with contempt.

We must, and will, fight back.

Thank you for your support.’

clear ballot result from Essex branch in favour of industrial action (22 Jan 2018)

email from Dr  Cathy Crawford, President of Essex UCU branch (22nd Jan 2018):

Dear Essex UCU members

We at Essex voted 91% in favour of strike action, and 93% in favour of action short of a strike.

Thanks for voting!  And thanks especially to the reps and others who helped achieve our splendid turnout (61.5% of Essex members voted, above national average).

Let us hope this overwhelmingly clear UCU mandate will make the employers more constructive than they have been so far!

Formal negotations start tomorrow.​

Dr Catherine Crawford· Senior Lecturer in History· President Essex UCU

Last day to vote in USS ballot -closes 19 Jan

VOTE YES, VOTE TODAY

If one of your resolutions was to vote in the USS ballot and you haven’t done yet, make sure you do today. The ballot closes on 19 Jan hence the last posting date realistically is TODAY. We need 50% turnout at each institution by law to take action.

More info here –