Lecturers to vote on further walkouts

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UNIVERSITY and college lecturers are to be balloted for further strike action over the Government’s controversial changes to public sector pensions.

The University and College Union (UCU) said members who are part of the Teachers’ Pension Scheme will be asked if they agree with a recommendation to refuse the Government’s offer and will back further walkouts.

If approved, action could start at the end of next month.

The union said its national executive (NEC) had withdrawn a previous call for rolling strikes throughout February. It is recommending that the Government’s offer be rejected.

The ballot will open during the next week and close in March.

UCU general secretary Sally Hunt said: “The Government’s proposals still come up short, even after repeated attempts by the education unions, over months of hard negotiation, to win protection for pensions. UCU is always stronger when we seek our members’ views before acting so I am personally delighted that the NEC has now agreed to a consultative ballot and that what we do next will be decided by our members themselves.”

A Department for Education spokesman said: “It’s very interesting that the UCU has backtracked on its previous outright rejection of the deal – and has decided to actually consult its members.

“Further strikes will not get UCU’s members any further forward. This is a good, fair deal – guaranteeing lecturers a far better pension than the vast majority of people in the country will ever get but keeping long-term costs firmly under control. We have made clear that the deal on the table is as good as it gets and we’re not going to reopen talks on any major point of principle.”

Unions have objected to public sector pension reforms which include proposals to move from a final salary scheme to one based on career average earnings.