University strikes to continue after staff reject pension offer

Striking university staff have expressed anger and widespread opposition to a deal struck by their own leaders to bring an end to a bitter dispute over pensions.

The proposed agreement between the University and College Union (UCU) and employers represented by Universities UK (UUK) was reached on Monday night after six days of talks at the conciliation service Acas and three weeks of strike action.

The initial reaction from many of those on the picket lines was overwhelmingly hostile with protests planned outside UCU headquarters in north London, where the deal was due to be discussed by senior members on Tuesday morning.

Many UCU branches and individual members expressed their hostility on social media to the proposed deal, which was described as derisory. Using the hashtag #NoCapitulation, many posted on Twitter calling for the deal to be rejected.

“This is not the deal that I have put my research and my students’ educations on hold for,” Dr Donna Yates, an archaeologist, posted. “This is not the deal that I stood outside for hours in a blizzard for. This is NOT the deal we have been striking for.”

Picket lines were said to be busier than usual as striking staff turned out to express their opposition to the deal, and meetings were being held on campuses up and down the country to discuss next steps. Thousands more added their names to an open letter calling for the deal to be rejected.

Des Freedman, the UCU vice-president at Goldsmiths, University of London, said: “It’s just incredible. I’ve not seen one tweet or one message saying anything other than this is just letting us down.”

“The level of anger about this deal is so strong,” said another striking Goldsmiths lecturer. “The picket line is bigger than at the beginning. People are livid. It’s a complete capitulation.”



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