FXU statement regarding the upcoming UCU industrial action
The University and College Union (UCU) has balloted its members at the University of Exeter on whether to take industrial action over proposed changes to their pension provision. Along with 60 other universities around the UK, the Exeter UCU branch voted overwhelmingly (92% in favour on a 58% turnout) to strike for 14 days across February and March. The FXU Presidents have met with representatives from both UCU and senior management of the University of Exeter to discuss the current situation.
The university has set in motion a process to mitigate any disruption to students, as far as possible, and FXU is committed to supporting and representing the interests of our students in this process. UCU have assured FXU that their members will discuss the strikes with their students before any action so that any affected students are kept informed.
The Presidents of FXU with responsibility for University of Exeter students in Cornwall have released the following statement:
“FXU is very sympathetic to the cause of UCU in their campaign to ensure a fair pension deal for their members. Proposed changes to the USS pension scheme would see many of UCUs members significantly financially out of pocket in their retirement. Not only will this affect current academics, but it will also impact on future academic staff, some of whom are currently our members. We are particularly aware of the potential impact of these changes on the future careers of our post graduate research students.
We strongly believe that all academic staff should be fairly rewarded for delivering an excellent education to our students. We recognise that any erosion of perceived fairness in terms and conditions for staff can have a deep impact on morale, and potentially therefore impact on the quality of service delivery to our students.
Whilst FXU is very sympathetic and supportive of UCU’s cause on this issue, we are also very cognisant of our duty to our students and the impact the proposed strike action will have on them. We cannot, therefore, support UCU’s current planned strike action which will undoubtedly have significant impact on many of our students and their potential success and satisfaction with the student experience.
We therefore urge the University of Exeter and Universities UK to engage with UCU in meaningful negotiations to resolve this dispute as soon as possible; to explore every opportunity of compromise with UCU, recognising the legitimate concerns of UCU on the perceived unfairness of the current proposals, and to focus on resolving the dispute with minimal disruption to students.”
FXU recognises that this issue is complex and difficult, and that there are many factors to consider for all parties involved. FXU will be continuing discussions with our students, particularly those potentially most affected by both the proposed changes to the pension provision and the proposed actions of UCU members. We therefore may update and adjust our formal position at some point in the future as the situation develops.
Dean Pomeroy (FXU President Exeter)
Jamal Clarke (FXU President Student Experience)
Harry Bishop (FXU President Community & Welfare)