Students facing new disruption as university lecturers vote to strike, sparking fears lectures could be cancelled for WEEKS
- 76 per cent of members of University and College Union (UCU) voted to strike
- Lecturers could cancel classes at 68 higher education institutions across the UK
- Move cited as a further blow to students, after two years’ disruption due to Covid
Lecturers have voted in favour of strikes this term which could mean weeks of cancelled classes on campuses across the country.
The University and College Union (UCU) has vowed to stage walk-outs across 68 institutions before Christmas in a row over cuts to pensions.
Last night, 76 per cent of members who voted backed strike action, while 88 per cent supported action short of a strike.
The overall turnout was 53 per cent, higher than the legally required threshold of 50 per cent to provide a mandate.
Members of the University and College Union (UCU) have voted to launch a campaign of industrial action, which could stretch into the new year if the deadlocked row remains unresolved
The move will be a further blow to students, who have already endured almost two years of disruption and online learning due to the pandemic.
It follows a long-running dispute over the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) for lecturers’ pensions.
The UCU says staff will face a 35 per cent cut to their retirement incomes, based on a ‘flawed valuation’ of the scheme.
University bosses say staff would still have ‘one of the most attractive pension schemes in the country’ even after the changes.
Jo Grady, UCU general secretary, said: ‘These results are a clear mandate for strike action over pension cuts and should be heard loud and clear by university employers.
‘Staff in universities they have given their all to support students during the pandemic, but management have responded by trying to slash their guaranteed pension by 35%.
‘In a ballot window of just three weeks our members have made it abundantly clear that they will not accept these vindictive attacks on their retirement.
‘It is now in the gift of employers to avoid strike action, which is the outcome staff want as well.
‘All management need to do is withdraw their needless cuts and return to negotiations.
‘If they fail to do so, any disruption will be entirely their responsibility.’
The UCU claims that employer body Universities UK (UUK) voted to cut thousands of pounds from the retirement benefits of university staff, based on a ‘flawed valuation’ of the scheme conducted at the beginning of the pandemic as markets were crashing.
The union is also expecting the results of a ballot for strike action over pay and conditions today.
Last year, universities saw the biggest ever strike action with 14 days of walkouts over similar issues.