Joint panel backed by UCU in pensions dispute

Further strike action suspended as a result of union members ballot.

The Master of Birkbeck, Professor David Latchman, has welcomed a decision by members of the University and College Union (UCU) to support proposals aimed at resolving a national dispute about pensions for university staff. 

Proposed changes by Universities UK to the USS pension scheme led to 14 days of strike action by members of the UCU during February and March of this year and further action had been due to begin next week.

Union members today voted by two to one to back the establishment of a joint expert panel to examine the valuation of the pension scheme and then make recommendations. 

As a result of the decision, the strike action which had been expected to continue into May and June has been suspended. This will avoid the potential impact on exams.

Professor Latchman said: “The establishment of an expert panel is in line with what we have always advocated and we will be working with other institutions that share our position to ensure that an affordable and sustainable solution is delivered, which has the confidence of our staff.”

The original proposals to change the scheme would have removed the guaranteed “defined benefit” of the pension. The UCU and UUK, which welcomed today's result, will now jointly present their plan for a joint expert panel to the USS Board and the Pensions Regulator.

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