University strikers reject pension deal

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University staff are staging a protest at the UCU headquarters in north London today to show their dissatisfaction with the interim arrangement - where higher contributions would need to be paid for three years from April 2019.

Since USS' triennial actuarial valuation was published previous year along with a number of other estimates of the scheme's funding position, academics, unions and universities have debated the validity and accuracy of the different figures put forward to illustrate USS' liabilities. Employers' contribution however will rise by only 1.3%.

There would also be an independent re-evaluation of the size of the pension scheme's deficit.

In the meantime, an independent expert valuation group will be convened to deliberate the correct valuation methodology and assumptions for the scheme, while both sides of the argument will explore risk-sharing alternatives for the future from 2020, including collective defined contribution schemes.

The joint statement issued by UUK and UCU says that UCU would "encourage its members to prioritise the rescheduling of teaching in order to minimise the disruption to students" from the strike.

The Financial Times has reported that "the settlement, which will have to be approved by UCU members, means the union will now nearly certainly not go ahead with plans, announced last week, to disrupt end-of-year exams with a series of strikes between April and June", adding that 'UCU's branch representatives, the heads of the union's local groups, and its higher education committee will meet on Tuesday to discuss whether formally to call off the strike action.

However, many union branches were quick to signal their dissatisfaction with the deal, using the hashtag #NoCapitulation on Twitter.

It stated: "In three years time we will be demobilised and pressured to accept a worse deal. In our opinion, we should keep going and throw UUK's offer out altogether".

"Liverpool UCU call on all branches to reject this unacceptable offer and demand that UCU ensure a deal is brought about that is commensurate to the sacrifice of their members", the branch said.

Employer contributions will go up to 19.3 per cent of salary, with members' contributions rising to 8.7 per cent.

The University of Kent branch of the union said the deal was "a huge betrayal of our sacrifice".