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Industrial Lecturers closer to strike action after talks end without agreement

The University and College Union said that employers’ organisation Universities UK had reneged on a commitment to hold further talks

STRIKE action at 61 universities came a step closer today after talks on bosses’ plans to wreck the lecturers’ pension scheme ended without agreement.

The University and College Union (UCU) said that employers’ organisation Universities UK (UUK) had reneged on a commitment to hold further talks.

UUK intends to scrap the lecturers’ pension scheme, which guarantees levels of retirement pensions based on final salaries. It wants to replace it with a scheme that would be dependent on stock market fluctuations, giving no guaranteed retirement income.

The lecturers voted overwhelmingly for strike action, by 88 per cent on a 58 per cent turnout, the UCU announced on Monday.

Seven more universities are reballoting after failing to reach the government-imposed statutory 50 per cent turnout.

UCU general secretary Sally Hunt said today: “Staff will feel utterly betrayed by their leaders.

“We are disappointed at how talks ended, particularly after UUK suggested that it wanted more talks to avoid strikes.

“Universities must be on notice that, unless there are dramatic changes in their negotiators’ position, then strike action will be arriving on campus next month.”

The UCU is planning 14 days of strike action starting next month and lecturers will also work strictly to contract. This is expected to have a significant effect on timetables as higher education relies heavily on unpaid voluntary overtime from lecturers.

UUK represents the vice-chancellors of 68 universities in Britain. Their pay came under critical scrutiny last year when the UCU revealed that their average salary package for 2015-16 was £277,834. The highest-paid, the University of Bath’s Dame Professor Glynis Breakwell, pocketed £468,000.

Vice-chancellors also enjoy guaranteed pensions based on an individual’s final salary.

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