Update: Friday 13 April 2018Statement from the University and College Union:The USS consultation closed at 2pm today. The result was as follows:Total balloted: 53,415Total votes cast: 33,973Total number valid votes: 33,913Turnout: 63.5%Yes to accept the UUK offer 21,683 (64%)No to reject the UUK offer 12,230 (36%)In line with the decision of members the union will suspend its immediate industrial action plans but keep our legal strike mandate live until the agreement between UCU and UUK is noted by USS.Response from Universities UK on behalf of employers including Oxford University:“The decision by UCU members to support the creation of a Joint Expert Panel means that strike action is immediately suspended. This gives students important reassurance that they won’t be affected by further disruption during their summer study and exam period.“Reviewing the methodology and assumptions in the current valuation will build confidence, trust and increase transparency in the valuation process. It will provide an opportunity to consider the questions raised about the valuation by scheme members and employers. It is important that interested parties engage with the panel and remain open-minded about its possible findings.“Working in partnership with UCU, we will now appoint a jointly agreed chair for the panel as soon as possible before developing its terms of reference, order of work and timescales.“Alongside UCU, we will seek support for this process from USS and the Pensions Regulator, fully recognising their statutory responsibilities and accountabilities. Current pension benefits are guaranteed until 1 April 2019, so the panel will need to conclude its work in time to put in place a sustainable way forward for USS from that date.”
Tuesday 10 April 2018
The University has been informed by University and College Union (UCU) HQ that notice of industrial action at Oxford from April 16 is now withdrawn. Oxford could receive 14-day notice of an alternative date for strike action at any time. The University will act swiftly to communicate this to colleagues and students.
A national ballot of UCU members on the latest ACAS-convened proposal is currently taking place. This vote closes at 2pm on Friday.
Friday 30 March 2018
At ACAS-convened talks last Friday, Universities UK (representing employers, including Oxford) and the University and College Union (UCU) proposed to establish a Joint Expert Panel to consider the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) valuation and the assumptions and tests which underpin it. The proposal aims to rebuild trust between the parties and help resolve the dispute.
UCU has now opted to ballot its members on this proposal. An electronic voting system is to be used and this ballot is expected to take place shortly after Easter.
The proposal for a Joint Expert Panel – for which Oxford University expressed support – included two key undertakings:
- the requirement for suspension of industrial action while the Panel is created and undertakes its work.
- the support of the USS Trustee and the Pensions Regulator, recognising their statutory position and the safeguards they must provide for scheme members. The Trustee has a responsibility to protect the interests of all beneficiaries of the scheme, and the Regulator is required to ensure that workplace pensions are secure and sustainable.
The Pensions Regulator has responded constructively, acknowledging the joint proposal while also seeking evidence of a credible programme to complete valuation within a reasonable timeframe.
Until this proposal has been considered by UCU members, the industrial action remains in place.
UCU has therefore served notice of strike action to begin on 16 April in 13 universities, including Oxford.
However, it is important to note that this is statutory advance notice of strike action. Disruption does not have to take place if things change in the interim, and we will of course keep staff and students closely informed of developments.
The University's Staff Gateway and Oxford Students webpages have detailed Q&A sections, news updates and background information, and this is being regularly updated.