Members of the University and College Union (UCU) have backed industrial action over their pension scheme.
There will be talks today between employer’s representatives and the union to try and prevent any action from going ahead. UCU Scotland official Mary Senior said they would go into the talks “hopeful that we can resolve the current impasse.”
The action looks like it will stop short of a strike although 78% of members balloted at 69 universities in the UK, nine of which are in Scotland, said they would support a strike. Instead there could be a marking boycott and a refusal to set exams.
They are protesting against moves to change the University’s Superanuation scheme which runs in “old” universities including the ancient universities such as Glasgow, Edinburgh and St Andrews. Universities UK (UKU) are proposing it moves from a final salary scheme to a career average scheme. First Actuarial found that educators would be thousands of pounds worse off if the changes went ahead.
The move could affect hundreds of thousands of students. NUS president Gordon Maloney said they are “proud to stand fully behind our lecturers”. He pointed out that industrial action is not taken lightly: “It’s important to remember that staff don’t vote for strike action in pursuit of grace and favour houses, lavish expenses or six figure salaries, which are the perks enjoyed by university principals. Instead, they do so in response to an attack on their pensions, which they work extremely hard for”.
General secretary of the UCU, Sally Hunt said: “If the employers do not address our concerns then we will meet on Friday to determine what forms of disruptive action we take and when they would start.’
UKU believe that this is the best deal they can offer due to a shortfall in pension funding. A spokesman said: UUK believes that the employers’ proposals are the best that can be achieved in terms of protecting employees’ pension benefits, given the substantial scheme deficit and the risks to the future viability of the scheme if these reforms are not implemented.” The changes would likely come into force in April 2016.
This is not the first time the UCU has proposed industrial action. Late last year they proposed a strike along with Unison and Unite over a proposed 1% pay rise. The action was halted when members accepted a 2% rise.