Industrial Action – ACAS and USS update [UPDATED]

March 20th, 2023

Following a meeting between UCEA and the Joint HE Trade Unions on Tuesday 14 March 2023, facilitated by ACAS, agreement was reached on terms of reference for detailed negotiations covering a review of the UK HE pay spine, workload, contract types and equality pay gaps.

Article updated following UCU Higher Education Committee decision on 17 March 2023

The Joint HE Trade Unions and UCEA issued a joint statement and undertook to consult their respective constituencies on these terms of reference as a basis for commencing those negotiations. The UCU Higher Education Committee met on Friday 17 March and voted not to put the proposals to consultation and to continue industrial action.


Universities UK (UUK), on behalf of USS employers, also issued a joint statement with the University and College Union (UCU) outlining how both parties are working together on the future of USS pension scheme benefits.


The joint statement on USS confirms that UUK and UCU’s shared commitments are to: “prioritise the improvement of benefits to pre-April 2022 levels, where this can be done in a demonstrably sustainable manner; working together so that this, and future, valuations are undertaken on a moderately prudent and evidence-based basis, taking account of the open and long-term nature of the scheme so that we do not return to dispute at each valuation; and to work together on a constructive dialogue with the Pensions Regulator (tPR) and the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).”


The statement also confirms that UCU and UUK have agreed to develop and implement a robust and transparent mechanism for managing risk which can provide more sustainable benefits and contributions for future valuations, and reiterated UUK and UCU’s shared agreement to a scheme governance review.


The dispute resolution process on the national pay award 2023-24 was facilitated by ACAS and led to UCEA making a revised pay offer for 2023-24, although an impasse rather than an agreement on the pay uplift was reached. University employers have confirmed that they will implement the pay offer in two phases from 1 February and 1 August 2023.

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