Lecturers on strike at UEA 

A live timeline of Concrete's coverage 

On Thursday 22 February, staff at 61 universities across the country began fourteen days of industrial action in protest of planned changes to their pension schemes. 

The University and College Union (UCU) argued changes, which the universities representative organisation Universities UK (UUK) wish to make, could mean typical lecturers would lose £10,000 of their pension every year. 

From superannuation schemes to the snow, Concrete has compiled this digital timeline to help you understand all the ins and outs of the dispute.

"Typical lecturers will lose £10,000 of their pension every year"

Photo: Matthew Nixon

"I think the feeling of people who've been put on strike for the last eleven days is this is not what we were out on strike for."

Photo: Emily Hawkins

UEA staff reject pension strike agreement 

By Emily Hawkins - 13/03/2018

UEA's union branch will relay a rejection of an agreement to end the pension strike to their national committee today. 

An agreement was reached between the University and College Union (UCU) and higher education representative Universities UK (UUK). 

Talks were held with industrial conciliation service Acas. UCU branches discussed the offer this morning, with UEA's branch almost unanimously agreeing to express dissatisfaction.

UEA staff said they were prepared to continue striking in May and June.

UCU will make a decision later today after consulting members.


"Should this agreement stand I will have to think hard about continuing to support UCU."

Photo: Emily Hawkins

Agreement reached in pension dispute 

By Matthew Nixon and Emily Hawkins - 12/03/2018

An agreement has been reached between the University and College Union (UCU) and higher education representative Universities UK (UUK), in the pensions dispute. 

The UUK said they expect a suspension of industrial action "from and including Wednesday 14 March," following this meeting.

PHD student Ruth Flaherty told Concrete she was angry and disappointed, saying she felt "completely let down" by UCU representatives.


Staff pay cut could prolong strikes, say UCU

By Matthew Nixon - 05/03/2018

"University staff who are on strike will have their pay withheld by 25 percent for every day of 'partial performance' at work, including not rescheduling cancelled classes.

UEA emailed all staff to say that where they are taking action short of a strike (known as ASOS) in connection with the ongoing UCU industrial action, 25 percent of pay will be withheld for every day."


"What will such an adversarial, divisive measure do to staff morale? How long will it take for management to restore trust?"

Photo: Matthew Nixon

Strong turnout in snow of striking staff

By Matthew Nixon - 02/03/2018

Despite deep snow this week, there was a large turnout on picket lines of staff striking against changes to pension schemes.

Across Britain, a total of 61 universities have been striking changes to the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS), one of the country's largest principal private pension schemes, which is organised by Universities UK (UUK), the representative organisation for the higher education sector.


USS strikes: the national picture

By Tom Bedford - 27/02/18

The UCU organised strikes are estimated to affect over one million students, with 575,000 teaching hours lost across the 64 universities participating.

Whilst most Student Unions backed the industrial action prior to the strikes, this has not been a universal stance.

In a poll held by the Students' Union of Bath University, 54 percent of students voted against a motion supporting the strikes.

Similarly, the University of Exeter Students’ Guild declared a position of neutrality towards the strikes, yet this was reversed following pressure from students.


"We're not doing this because we want to irritate or disrupt students particularly, but that’s one of the unfortunate consequences of strike action, so I would plead for support and solidarity at this time."

Comment: 'Confessions of a reluctant striker'

By Professor Lee Marsden - 27/02/2018

UEA's Head of school for Politics, Philosophy, Language and Communication Studies, Lee Marsden, wrote into Concrete for issue #349. He writes: "As Head of one of the largest schools in the university I have reluctantly decided to join the strike action in support of junior colleagues who face the prospect of losing up to £10,000 a year off their pensions.

"Having already reduced the pension staff can expect on retirement in recent years the employers are now determined to further reduce those benefits and, in keeping with neoliberal management practices, transfer pension liability from employer to employee."

"This will result in insecurity in retirement for lecturers, and a brain drain of lecturers moving to post 1992 universities with better pensions or out of academia all together."


UEA staff to strike over pensions dispute

By Seàn Bennett - 30/01/2018

The University and College Union (UCU) recently announced plans for 14 days of industrial action, beginning with a two day strike on Thursday 22 February.

Staff at 61 universities including UEA have pledged their support to the action in response to pension changes that could see them losing £200,000 each during their retirement.

The joint negotiation committee of the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS), made up of five UCU and five Universities UK representatives, voted narrowly to proceed with plans to change the scheme from one of 'defined benefit' to one of ‘defined contribution’.


Lecturers to vote on strike action

By Emily Hawkins - 05/12/2017

Staff at UEA will decide whether to take strike action against a new staff pension scheme in a vote.

The union which represents university staff, the Universities and Colleges Union (UCU) oppose a new scheme proposed by the body representing university employers.

Universities UK (UUK) intend to change the system from a defined benefits scheme to what they call a "market-leading" defined contributions scheme.

In the present system, the state of the market does not impact the amount an employee receives when they retire and the employer takes on investment risk. However, the new system places any financial risk or reward on the employee.


Photo: Matthew Nixon
Photo: Matthew Nixon

This timeline will be updated as and when developments occur. For more updates, check out www.concrete-online.co.uk, or follow us on Twitter @Concrete_UEA