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Employers express disappointment at UCU's strike action plans on three separate issues

The employers have expressed their disappointment at UCU's decision to take industrial action on a range of issues across the higher education sector. Today (15 March) UCU announced that strike action will take place in England and Wales on the 24 March over changes to the Teachers’ Pension Scheme (TPS). This will coincide with the UK-wide strike day which already encompasses action over ‘Job Protection and Pay’ and the second day of strike action over the proposed changes to Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS).

A UCEA spokesperson said: “Employers are extremely disappointed by UCU’s decision to take industrial action on three separate issues across the higher education sector.  We are concerned that UCU may be confusing its members, staff and students by combining three separate ballot outcomes with generic strike action.” 

“UCU should look to work with HEIs during this period of change and challenge for all; not against them. There is much sector uncertainty at present and this course of action will only damage students and institutions.” 

UCEA comment on pay and job security:

“The 0.4% uplift in pay was supported by all three support staff unions (Unison, Unite and GMB) and has been paid and backdated in spite of the dramatically worsening funding environment.
Job security issues are a serious concern for all, but decisions on staffing, and handling workforce change, are matters for autonomous institutions.”

Employers Pensions Forum* (EPF) comment on TPS:

“UCU has decided to take strike action over unspecified potential changes to the TPS.  At present it would seem that the UCU is the only trade union not awaiting the outcome of the current discussions between the TUC and the Government relating to public sector pension schemes.”

EPF comment on USS:

“University employers call on the UCU to respect the process of the USS and represent the active members of the USS in the proper place, by discharging its gift of governance around the table of the Joint Negotiating Committee (JNC) on the 17 March. The changes that were approved by the JNC and then by the USS Trustee Board, both of which involved full UCU representation, are moderate by any standards and include the retention of a final salary pension for all existing USS members.”


*The EPF was established by GuildHE, UCEA and Universities UK in 2007 as a broad based forum for HEIs to discuss current and longer term pensions issues and to develop a strategy that will enable the HE sector to continue to offer staff access to high quality pensions schemes as an important part of the total remuneration package.

For further information:

Andy Fryer, Communications Manager (
Marc Whittaker, Communications and Events Officer (
Tel: 020 7383 2444 Out-of-hours: 07827 157324.
USS Press enquiries: Ellen Gracey or Sally Ling at GR Communications 020 3159 5001
Outside office hours – 0766 460775

The EPF website can be found at

UCEA’s website provides extensive background information relating to the 2010-11 Pay Negotiations 

UCEA notes to editors:

Staff have benefited from excellent pay awards in recent years equating to a cumulative total of at least 16.4% from 2006-07 to 2009-10. Between 2002 and 2009 (which included pay modernisation under the Framework) HE teaching professionals’ average earnings increased by 35.8% (44.5% all staff) compared to 30% in the whole economy (ASHE) and against a total 20% RPI increase over the period. Full-time HE teaching professionals’ earnings in April 2009 were £50,091 at the mean (£46,243 at the median). For details go to UCEA’s website:

Sector pay has improved considerably in recent years; including a base pay rise of at least 16.4% from 2006-07 to 2009-10.  Pensions and increments costs mean that the overall increase to staff costs in HEIs will have significantly exceeded the headline pay awards. This 2010-11 pay deal has to take into account the fact that a significant number of staff will also receive incremental pay rises averaging 2.9%.