Uni strikes off fol­low­ing vote

South Wales Echo - - NEWS -

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.”

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