By Clara Gaspar
This is a breaking story and will be updated
Members of the University and College Union (UCU) have voted to accept proposals put forward to solve the university pensions dispute.
In the national ballot, 64% voted to accept the proposal, while 36% voted against it.
The turnout was 63.5%, a record for a UCU national ballot.
As a result, the second wave of strikes due to begin next week and to continue into the exam period has been suspended.
However, the result has come as a disappointment to many academics who believed the proposal did not offer enough.
Dr Sara Uckelman of Durham University tweeted “I just wish I had any faith that UUK would deal transparently, or that UCU would deal competently. We haven’t had much evidence for either so far.”
UCU general secretary, Sally Hunt, said: “Members have participated in record numbers in the consultation, with a clear majority voting to accept the proposals. The union has come a very long way since January when it seemed that the employers’ proposals for a defined contribution pension were to be imposed.
“Now we have agreement to move forward jointly, looking again at the USS valuation alongside a commitment from the employers to a guaranteed, defined benefit scheme. USS, the regulator and government now need to ensure that UCU and UUK have the space to implement the agreement effectively.
“We hope this important agreement will hearten workers across the UK fighting to defend their pension rights and was won through the amazing strike action of UCU members.
“UCU has more work to do to ensure that the agreement delivers the security in retirement that university staff deserve. On behalf of all UCU members I want to say thank you to students and other staff for their inspiring support throughout the dispute.”
The next step is that the UCU and Universities UK (UUK) will now jointly present the plans to the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) Board and the Pensions Regulator.
The union has said that it expects the agreement between the pension fund’s two main stakeholders to be welcomed. However, while all planned strike action is suspended as of today, UCU will keep its strike mandate live as a precaution until this process has taken place.
Joe Dharampal-Hornby, Durham University Labour Club Co-Chair told Palatinate: “DULC is pleased that the UCU has reached an agreement with UUK, crucially supported by 64% of members. Our staff have made huge sacrifices in recent months, now more than ever we must all value their dedication to our education.
“We’re proud of all students who joined their lecturers on the picket line, and are determined to further strengthen student-staff solidarity as the fight for a fairer Durham University continues.”
Photograph by Durham Student-Staff Solidarity