The University and College Union (UCU) has rejected a call from university employers that would have forced the union to ban strike ballots over pensions for two years.
The employers offered to reduce pension contributions for the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) from the current plan of 9.6% of salary to 9.1% in exchange for a two-year moratorium on strike action.
However, the UCU turned down the request, noting this was still higher than the 8.8% currently paid, and the 8% paid before last year's strike action.
It comes after employers insisted on requiring staff to pay higher pension contributions, despite warnings of strike action from the UCU. The union is demanding a better and "decent" pay offer to staff, as well as greater pension security for members of the defined benefit (DB) section of USS.
The UCU will begin balloting members from 9 September after it wrote to 69 universities in June warning them of strike action if they "failed to defend USS pensions". All of them now face strike action in the new academic year.
The union said it was "disappointed" that the employers had tried to present the offer of a two-year ban on strike ballots over pensions as credible.
A spokesperson said: "The employers' offer was rejected because it has ludicrous conditions attached about when and how the union could conduct strike ballots.
"It was strike action that saved the USS pension and the employers must surely have known that we would never accept a two-year ban on ballots."
They continued: "[Members] will not accept universities trying to curb their ability to defend their pensions."
If strikes go ahead in the coming academic year, it will be the second set of action over pensions in two years. Last year's strikes in February and March followed an attempt by employers to close the defined benefit (DB) section of USS and move members into a defined contribution offering.
The UCU announced in April 2018 it had accepted an offer from Universities UK that pledged to retain DB provision in the scheme, ending the strike action. This offer ended in April and again, strike action is now looming over more than 60 universities in the country.
This week’s top stories include Prudential Retirement urging schemes to insure member benefits, and the Universities Superannuation Scheme submitting its 2018 valuation.
Legal and General (L&G) Retail Retirement has agreed an introducer agreement within its retirement income division to provide annuities to Prudential customers with guaranteed rates.
Incisive Media, the parent company of Professional Pensions, has launched the inaugural Women in Investment Festival.
This week's edition of Professional Pensions is out now.
Nick Greenwood – the former manager of the £2.2bn Berkshire Pension Fund – died earlier this month.