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University Strikes: UCU halts nationwide strikes for two weeks due to ‘significant progress’ in talks

UCU strike action - James Dowden

By Milan Perera, News Reporter

A breakthrough development in the University College Union (UCU) strike actions was marked as UCU has decided to halt university strikes for two weeks.

In this latest shift in the stand off between UCU and the university authorities, UCU General Secretary Jo Grady posted a video on Twitter on Friday, February 17 where she pointed out that: ‘We have agreed a two week period of calm.’  She further went on to say it 'will enable us to hold intensive negotiations with the aim of reaching a final agreement.'

In an email sent to UCU members, Grady outlined the summary of some of the central issues covered with the university authorities which included pensions, casualisation, workloads and zero hour contracts.

UCU General Secretary Jo Grady on Twitter 

Planned industrial action on February 21, 22, 23, 27 and 28 along with March 1 and 2 will now not go ahead. But the strike action later in the term, on March 16, 17, 20, 21 and 22 is still scheduled to take place.

The UCU has been on strikes over a pay rise in line with inflation, improvements to pensions after recent cuts, an end to casualised contracts and a 35 hour working week.

UCU and Unison members on strike - Charlie Gadd

Jo Grady, General Secretary of the UCU said: ‘We have reached a point in discussions with our employers where we have made significant progress across a range of issues.

UCU and Unison members on strike in front of Arts & Social Science Library - Charlie Gadd

To allow our ongoing negotiations to continue in a constructive environment we have agreed to pause action across our pay and working conditions and USS pensions disputes for the next two weeks and create a period of calm.

Before going into details off the progress we have made we want to make it absolutely clear that this is simply a pause.’

The dispute over pensions began more than a decade ago, but was reignited by the revaluation of the pension scheme used by academic staff - the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS).

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