In October 2021, University and College Union (UCU) advised us they would conduct a member ballot regarding proposed changes to the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) and a separate ballot related to pay and wider issues. The ballot closed on Thursday 4 November 2021.
Both ballot results were in favour of strike action and action short of a strike at Durham.
We have been notified that strike action will take place continuously on 1-3 December 2021 (inclusive). Further strike dates may be notified in due course.
Action Short of Strike (ASOS) will start on 1 December 2021 and may continue until no later than 3 May 2022. UCU have informed us that ASOS will comprise ‘working to contract and not volunteering to do more’.
Our key objective is, as far as possible, to ensure our students are able to achieve their learning outcomes and maintain their access to learning. You can stay up to date at this dedicated webpage.
Click here to read all of the latest updates on industrial action.
We fully understand that the outcome of the 2021 pay negotiations and the proposed changes to USS are important issues that concern many of our staff.
We are aware that the decision to vote in favour of industrial action at Durham has not been taken lightly. However, we are disappointed by this outcome given the impact this will have on our students, many of whom may have been impacted by the last round of industrial action and/or the pandemic. Our key objective is, as far as possible, to ensure our students are able to achieve their learning outcomes and maintain their access to learning.
Pay and pensions are subject to national negotiations, and as one of a large number of employers, we have limited influence over the outcome. Regarding pensions, it is a real concern that failure to implement an affordable solution will mean that more staff will be priced out of the scheme. No one wants to see a reduction in future pension benefits, but even with the proposed changes, we think the USS will continue to be a very good pension relative to other schemes. Indeed, as a University we are currently paying more into the USS pension scheme than ever before. It is also the case that a formal statutory consultation on the proposed changes to USS is currently underway (closing date 17 January 2022), and we would urge all USS members and UCU representatives to engage with this process and put forward any alternative suggestions so they can be formally considered.
If there is no agreement by 28 February 2022, the Pension Regulator has made clear that contributions will rise steeply to ensure the scheme is viable.
Turning to pay, the 2021 national pay settlement was at the limit of affordability for many institutions. This delivered base pay increases of between 3.6% and 1.5%. In addition to the pay settlement, the University has continued to reward academic and professional service colleagues with merit and discretionary awards for excellent and outstanding service throughout the pandemic.
Our wider benefits structure remains highly competitive and we regularly review and improve our employment benefits and practices to ensure we remain a responsible and attractive employer for our staff. Where there is a need to make improvements to our employment benefits and practices at Durham we will continue to do so, and our joint work with UCU on casualisation is an example of this.
If you have a question about industrial action at Durham, contact us using the email link below. We aim to respond to all enquiries within three working days of receipt.