On the 7th June, the Telegraph reported that for the second time since the beginning of the 2017-2018 academic year, there are proposed University College Union (UCU) lecturer strikes due to dissatisfaction with the state of lecturers’ pensions.
69 Vice-Chancellors have been written to, to alert them to their demand of a maximum individual contribution 8% to members of the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) pension plan. If not met, the UCU will hold a strike ballot in September which could lead to further strikes in the upcoming autumn. Among the institutions written to is the University of Southampton.
Universities UK have been in debate with the UCU over potential reforms to pensions. It’s reported by the UCU that there is a substantial deficit in the pensions which the academics will receive upon retirement.
Last spring, University of Southampton students, alongside 60 other universities, were heavily affected by strikes across faculties. During these 14 days of strike action, students across the UK occupied important university buildings in support of their lecturers and Southampton students, along with Reading, UCL and Cardiff, participated. A ballot for similar strike action this autumn will be taken.
The UCU have released this statement:
If they [the universities]fail to confirm by Wednesday 19 June that they will limit members’ contributions to 8%, or meet the cost of any additional contributions, then the union will prepare for an industrial action ballot in September.
Alongside this, according to the UCU, ‘hundreds of people’ have signed a letter sent to the Financial Times and published last week asking that a parliamentary committee take a look into how the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) is run. This follows in the wake of a USS trustee claiming that they were denied critical information.