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University strikes could be suspended after deal reached in pensions dispute

Evening Standard logo Evening Standard 13/03/2018 Tom Powell

© Provided by Independent Print Limited University strikes could be suspended this week after an initial agreement was reached in the bitter dispute over pensions.

More than 60 universities have been disrupted across the country after thousands of lecturers and other members of staff walked out.

The University and College Union (UCU) said that talks with Universities UK (UUK) had concluded, and that a transitional benefit arrangement had been agreed on, subject to consultation with its members.

In the talks, mediated by the conciliation service Acas, both parties agreed on an interim solution where both employers and employees will be required to pay higher pension contributions.

A spokesman for the UCU said the agreement would be considered by its higher education committee and branch representatives on Tuesday.

The interim arrangement says that the transitional period for which higher contributions would need to be paid would be implemented on April 1 2019 and last for three years.

Members of staff at universities across the country have been striking in protest at changes to the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS).

The row centres on proposals that would change the USS from a "defined benefit" scheme, which gives workers a guaranteed income in their retirement, to a purely "defined contribution" scheme, in which pensions are subject to fluctuations in the stock market.

A wave of 14 days of strikes had been due to end with a five-day walkout between Monday and Friday this week.


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