Picketers turned up at Sidgwick this morning despite the harsh weatherCambridge Defend Education

As striking staff returned to snowy picket lines today on the fifth day of industrial action, the University Council announced plans to hold an open discussion regarding the disputed pension changes.

Council discussion on pensions to occur following strike action

The fifth day of strike action saw the University Council announce plans to discuss the proposed pension reformsRosie Bradbury

The University Council – its principal executive and policy-making body – has announced that it will hold a forum on the proposed changes to the future benefit structure of USS next month, following national strike action over the elimination of defined benefit pension schemes for university staff.

The discussion is set to take place after the University commences its statutory consultation on the benefit proposals with its affected member employees on Monday, 12th March. The consultation, to be conducted on behalf of the USS, is the next step in the USS’s pensions valuation following the Joint Negotiation Committee’s decision announced on 23rd January, after which strike action was confirmed. The consultation will also include a number of roadshows at sites across the University.

The discussion, which will take place on Tuesday 20th March in Lady Mitchell Hall, will be open to all employees of the University who are USS members.

The forum was established in light of the Council’s view that “there should be an opportunity for the discussion of a topic of concern on proposals to change the future benefit structure of the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS)“.

Picketers praise student solidarity on snowy picket lines

Students joined picketers at picket lines around Cambridge to show solidarity with the strikesCambridge Defend Education

University staff picketing in snow flurries were given hot drinks and food by Cambridge Defend Education (CDE) today as a show of student solidarity with striking lecturers.

Speaking to Varsity, a senior lecturer in Archeology described “the beating heart of the university” in “students and staff coming out and supporting the future of education”.

A lecturer in the Department of Geography said: “it’s been enormously encouraging to see that much support and solidarity” among students, noting that the number of postdoctoral, graduate and undergraduate students joining picketers has grown over the course of strike action.

The strike action will break for the next four days, as staff and academics in Cambridge return to work. Action will resume on Monday and continue for the remainder of Lent term, affecting every teaching day except Friday, 9th March.

Varsity has contacted the Cambridge UCU for comment on the Council’s announcement.