The link to join the meeting has been emailed to you.
General Meeting to discuss USS Pensions
The branch committee have called a meeting of all members to discuss the USS pensions situation on Friday 8th October at 1pm. Please add this to your calendar and join us on the day.
Members ,check your email for a link to join the meeting.
The timetable for UK-wide industrial action over USS pension cuts and Four Fights (pay, workload, casualisation, and equality) is as follows:
Mon 18 Oct – ballots open
Thurs 4 Nov – ballots close
Mon 8 Nov – HEC meets to consider results
See a video message from Dr Jo Grady, UCU President, here: https://twitter.com/ucu/status/1440745807716642818
Please let your colleagues know it’s not too late to join UCU and have a voice in the ballots: https://www.ucu.org.uk/join
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.
LUCU Committee Advice to Striking Members
The branch think it important that staff who are considering strike action understand what is legally required and understand the guidance being issued in relation to both the proposed strike action between Nov 25th and Dec 4th and action short of a strike that will continue thereafter.
We believe some managers are making suggestions which are not in keeping with current guidance.
You are not required to give of strike action to management, or to students – although when asked afterwards if you did take strike action, you are required to provide this information.
It is recommended that colleagues give notice on the morning of the strike that they will be absent, as they would if they were going to be absent due to sickness. This is the case whether it involves lectures, seminars, or project supervision. This gives managers the same time frame to notify students of changes. Even though, again, there is no need to do so.
The branch is concerned that some of recommendations from some managers are asking to ensure the ‘smooth running of the programmes’ after December 4th is a request to ignore the action short of strike, thus to act to minimise disruption lessens and undermines the impact of the strike itself.
For more information please see the FAQ’s on UCU’s website.