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UCU re-ballot on pensions fails to reach threshold for strike action

18 Jan 2022

Message from Adèle MacKinlay, Director of People and Organisational Development

‘We have now been informed of the outcome of the University and College Union (UCU) re-ballot of members at our branch on changes to the USS pension arrangement. The re-ballot opened on 6 December 2021 and closed on 14 January 2022.

‘Our turnout was 47.77% of eligible UCU members, so failed to reach the legal 50% threshold required to give a mandate for strike action in relation to this ballot. 84% (836 staff) of those who voted were in favour of strike action. In total, we have about 6,300 USS members across the University.

‘Pension negotiations are conducted at a national level for USS, so we are unable to make changes at a local Manchester level. We do recognise how important pensions are to colleagues and we take those views very seriously. It is of fundamental importance to the University that we remain a great place to work, and study.

‘We will be separately communicating to you on the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) consultation with all members and can assure all affected staff that we have taken feedback into consideration as we continue to work hard to secure a pension scheme that provides retirement benefits, is affordable to all members and remains sustainable for the future.’

Action Short of a Strike (ASOS) continues on pay and employment conditions

Prior to Christmas UCU members took strike action in respect of pay and employment conditions on 1, 2 and 3 December 2021 and are committed to action short of a strike continuously from the 1 December 2021 ending no later than 3 May 2022.*

UCU’s Higher Education Committee (HEC) is due to meet tomorrow (19 January) to consider further action in the light of the results of the re-ballots and the existing mandate. There will be further consultation with its branches today (18 January). 

We recognise the right of colleagues to take action, but any kind of industrial action can cause serious disruption for our community, and particularly our students, after such an extended period of pandemic upheaval.

We will of course continue to keep colleagues fully informed. As we have done to date, we’d like to reassure our students that we will do everything we can to minimise any impact on their teaching, learning and wider experience.

*Note: In November 2021, in a vote on pay and employment conditions, the turnout of eligible UCU members was 50.4%, so just exceeding the 50% threshold. 74% (728 staff) of those voting in this ballot were in favour of strike action. We have a total of over 12,000 staff across the University all of whom are affected by pay and conditions.