LUCU Statement regarding the Strike
We are writing about the email sent by the Vice Chancellor on Wednesday 13 November regarding the strike.
The VC is quite right that he engaged with staff, and that he has made a public call for limiting employee contributions to 9.1%. Most Vice Chancellors have not done this and we appreciate the VC has made himself unpopular with some of them. Further, we acknowledge the frustration for our VC that some of the universities where the ballot turnout did not exceed the 50% threshold have less proactive, less sympathetic Vice Chancellors. Moreover we take his expressed concerns about the financial implications of increased contributions by the university seriously and in good faith.
However UCU’s position is that no one, not employees and not employers, need have their contributions increased. Rather at the root of the dispute is the valuation method. The debate is not “who should fund the increases” but whether or not increases are necessary.
The resolution to the 2018 strikes came from the establishment of a UUK/UCU Joint Expert Panel, which was tasked with reviewing the valuation method and proposing a way forward. If the methodology recommended by the Joint Expert Panel in their first report had been implemented, then neither employer nor employee contributions would be going up.
A couple of other points. The VC’s email mentioned that “employees currently contribute 9.6% of salary” but we highlight that this is only true since 1st October 2019. It was 8% before last year’s strike, then went to 8.8% and now has gone up to 9.6%. The email also noted that the USS Trustee includes UCU representatives but two clarifications are in order. First, UCU has nominees not representatives: these nominees are legally independent of UCU, and their actions are not controlled by UCU. Second, in recent weeks one of the UCU nominees, Professor Jane Hutton, was dismissed by USS after raising concerns about their valuation method.
Finally, we note that our VC is in engaging in meaningful discussion with LUCU committee and is making constructive proposals about how we might resolve the situation. We are grateful to have such a proactive and sympathetic Vice Chancellor at Loughborough who engages meaningfully with the branch and we do not take this for granted. We will be in touch again to canvas members’ views on the options as we see them.