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Reading week strike threatens to delay marking process

Universities UK are suggesting pension reform for lecturers and UCU are looking for a negotiation

A marking boycott took place on 6th November which saw academics and staff from 69 universities protest against proposed change to pensions.

Although the strike did not affect any contact hours within Queen Mary, it did threaten to disrupt planned exams and mean that students will not receive marks for coursework and other assignments as scheduled. University and Colleges Union (UCU) have met with university employers to negotiate an alternative and are still awaiting a decision.

Universities UK were planning on changing the pension from a final salary arrangement to a pension based on an average salary throughout a career – but only up to a threshold of £50,000. On top of this, employers would start paying 18% instead of 16% into their employees’ pension. There are other propositions to the pension reform that UCU have opposed.

78% of UCU voted in favour of the strike in a recent ballot, whilst 87% voted for action less than a strike, such as a marking boycott. 45% of members voted in the ballot which is the highest turnout in a notional higher education ballot since the formation of UCU in 2006.

UCU general secretary, Sally Hunt, said: “The proposals remain full of holes and the information they are apparently relying on to back them up keeps being exposed as misleading.” She goes on, “[we] hope the employers will come back to the table for genuine negotiations aimed at resolving] the enormous gap between our two positions.”

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