The University and College Union and employer Universities UK will return to talks on Monday 5th March to resolve the dispute over university staff pensions.
At the talks, which will be mediated by the conciliation service Acas, the UCU will continue to promote proposals that it believes would put an end to the conflict.
Since Thursday, staff at 61 universities across the UK have been striking over pension cuts which the UCU claim could see the average academic loose £10,000 a year in their retirement.
Bristol University initially took a neutral stance, but last week saw Vice Chancellor Hugh Brady call on the UUK to return to negotiations following pressure from staff and students alike.
Progress has been made today following talks with UCU on the future of the USS pension scheme. Both parties agreed to involve ACAS and further talks are being arranged.— Universities UK (@UniversitiesUK) February 27, 2018
See full statement: https://t.co/G6natuim6v #USSstrikes #USS
At a meeting on Tuesday, the UCU outlined proposals that it believed would provide guaranteed pensions for members of the Universities Superannuation Scheme.
The union’s proposed model would lead to an increased risk for universities, and increased contributions of 2.7% for employers and 1.4% for scheme members.
The suggestions are based on ideas from both union members and university vice chancellors, and the UCU believes that the majority of institutions would be prepared to accept the arrangement.
Aside from the pensions issue, 75,000 uni staff are on casual contracts inc. 21,000 on zero-hours contracts. This is unsustainable - we need stability to ensure high quality teaching in universities and colleges. pic.twitter.com/goQroc2MSw— David Lammy (@DavidLammy) February 28, 2018
A UUK spokesperson felt that Tuesday’s talks were ‘positive’, as both sides showed ‘a willingness to work together to address the scheme’s financial challenges.’
The UCU general secretary Sally Hunt agreed, and said: ‘We are pleased the employers have agreed to more talks.
‘UCU tabled proposals provide the basis for settling this damaging dispute. We have listened not just to our members, but also to the many university leaders who have contributed ideas.’
'UCU tabled proposals provide the basis for settling this damaging dispute'
Despite requests from the employer, staff will continue to strike while talks take place, with the 5 strike days scheduled for next week set to go ahead as planned.
Featured image: Epigram / Ciara Flint