USS Pension Dispute Timeline

Following a ballot result announced on Monday 22nd January 2018 where UCU members overwhelmingly backed strike action, UCU announced a series of strikes during February and March 2018 at 61 universities including UCL.  The dispute relates to proposed changes to the USS Pension Scheme which is facing alarming proposals for the future, effectively ending USS as we know it.  Below is a timeline of key dates.

April 2018

4th April - UCU launches a consultative ballot of members on the UUK proposal which will close at 2pm on Friday 13th April.

  • UCL UCU: Emergency general meetings are held over Easter and in the new term. Members attending question the 'offer', vote near-unanimously to reject it, and urge national officials to revisit it. The Executive duly advises the entire membership to vote 'No'.

13th April - UCU announce members voted to accept the UUK proposal.

March 2018

1 March - UCU headquarters calls a mid-strike meeting on the Pensions dispute. Delegates from different universities report strong support. National officials thank branches for strengthening their hand and encourage continued action for good negotiations.

12th March - UCU circulates "the agreement reached between UCU and UUK under the auspices of Acas following 6 days of talks" to members.

13th March - UCU's Higher Education Committee and branch representatives meet to consider the contents of the proposed agreement, the hashtag #NoCapitulation trends  on twitter and members take part in a mass lobby at UCU HQ. The union's HEC agree to reject the proposals.

23rd March - UUK agreed a new proposal to be put to UCU members.  Sally Hunt, UCU General Secretary, announces that UCU's Superannuation Working Group agreed that the new proposal should be sent to members.

28th March - Delegates from USS branches attenda briefing to provide initial feedback on their responses.  The General Secretary presents 'a letter of clarification' from the Chief Executive of UUK, Alastair Jarvis at the meeting. The higher education committee (HEC) then meet to decide on the further process for consulting members via a ballot.

  • UCL UCU: Strike meetings followed by teach-outs continue. Many new members are enthused by the nature of action and daily discussion. Creative and witty posters reflect departmental specialization.

February 2018

Fourteen days of escalating strike action began across a four week period:

  • Week 1: Thursday 22 - Friday 23 February (two days)
  • Week 2: Monday 26 - Wednesday 28 February (three days)
  • Week 3: Monday 5 - Thursday 8 March (four days)
  • Week 4: Monday 12 - Friday 16 March (five days)


27th February - UCU meet the employers and put forward a comprehensive set of proposals to resolve the dispute.  The employers' response to the proposals was to agree to ACAS brokered negotiations in an attempt to resolve the dispute.

  • UCL UCU: Executive members continue to hold department meetings on request. Strikes commence and are widespread, non-members asking to be recognized for their support. Pickets are lively and enjoy support from staff and students. Strike meetings are held every afternoon, followed by teach-outs. On Feb 28, a London-region march on Parliament sets off from Malet Street. Politicians and trade unionists address the rally in Westminster Methodist Central Hall.

January 2018

UCU's ballot for industrial action closes on 19 January 2018.

On a 58% national turnout 88% vote for strike action - the strongest result in a national ballot since the formation of the UCU in 2006.At UCL 90% vote for strike action and 95% for action short of a strike (ASOS) on a 57% turnout.

Universities UK (UUK) - the employer's representatives - and the UCU to extend the timetable for negotiations to 23 January 2018 with a view to reaching a negotiated agreement..At a meeting of the USS Joint Negotiating Committee on 23 January 2018 the chair, Sir Andrew Cubie, uses his casting vote to support the UUK proposals.

  • UCL UCU: On par with the national vote, 57% of UCU members at UCL (including IoE) vote, 89% for industrial action.
  • The branch makes input to two Pensions Town Hall meetings called by HR, the second of which is livestreamed and later posted on the UCL website. Near-unanimously, the attendees say they prefer the existing DB scheme over its proposed DC replacement.
  • Executive members address department meetings on request.  

December 2017

In a dispute over the future of the USS the UCU's Higher Education Committee (HEC) agrees to launch an industrial action ballot..  The employers propose to close the USS Defined Benefits (DB) scheme to existing and new members and make future payments into a 100% Defined Contribution (DC) scheme. The proposal means that instead of a guaranteed pension income based on your contributions your retirement income would be based on how your individual "investments" perform in the stock market.

  • UCL UCU: The branch holds meetings through the autumn term in various parts of the campus. Members show rising interest and concern. The branch President and national officials call on UCL's head of Finance who remains uncooperative.

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