Uni strikes off following vote
A WAVE of strike action planned by university workers over the exam season has been suspended following a breakthrough in pension negotiations.
In a record turnout for a national ballot, University College Union members voted yesterday by two to one to accept proposals aimed at resolving the pensions dispute at the heart of the biggest industrial action ever to hit UK universities.
A second wave of walkouts, due to begin next week and to continue into May and June, has now been suspended.
However, the UCU said that, while all planned strike action is suspended, it will keep its strike mandate live as a precaution.
Work at 65 institutions, including four in Wales, was stopped by 14 days of staff walkouts late last term, prompting petitions from tens of thousands of students demanding payment for tuition not delivered to be refunded.
Staff at four universities in Wales walked out. They were Cardiff, Bangor, Aberystwyth and the University of Wales Trinity St David.
On Friday, UCU members and employers’ organisation Universities UK agreed to set up a joint expert panel to review the pension valuation at the centre of the row.
Cardiff University vicechancellor Professor Colin Riordan said: “This gives students important reassurance that they won’t be affected by further disruption during their summer study and exam period.
“Whilst this is not a final agreement and there is still some way to go, I am more confident than I have been for some time that a longterm solution can been found.”
Cardiff University UCU branch spokesman Andy Williams said: “This is a big victory. There was no chance we would have got a joint expert panel to reevaluate unless we had taken strike action.
“We are really optimistic we have got a good deal which would not have been possible without the strike.
“But the large number voting against shows there is still scepticism and mistrust and there is no way they can foist a sub-standard deal on us. They will be watched closely.”