STRIKING lecturers from the North-East have joined those across the country to reject a revised offer on their pensions.

The University and College Union (UCU) had to throw out the deal it had negotiated with university employers after members voted against it.

Francis Pritchard, the secretary of Durham UCU, said branch members were almost unanimous in rejecting the proposal.

The branch in Newcastle had also indicated they would reject the offer.

UCU is now calling for urgent negotiations with Universities UK (UUK) aimed at ending the dispute.

Union members are now in a fourth week of industrial action and are planning further plans for strikes aimed at disrupting summer exams.

UCU general secretary Sally Hunt said: “Branches made it clear today that they wanted to reject the proposal. UCU’s greatest strength is that we are run by and for our members and it is right that members always have the final say.

“The strike action for this week remains on and we will now make detailed preparations for strikes over the assessment and exam period. We want urgent talks with the universities’ representatives to try and find a way to get this dispute resolved.”

UUK says the revised offer had included increased employer contribution to ensure members would receive “meaningful defined benefits.”

The dispute is over changes to the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) pension scheme.

UUK says the scheme is £6.1bn in deficit and to become sustainable must be changed from a defined benefit scheme to a defined contribution scheme.