Drop in Meeting for Staff on Casual Contracts

Drop in Meeting for Staff on Casual Contracts

We inviting all Loughborough University staff on Fixed Term, Zero Hours, Hourly Paid or Variable Hours contracts to attend our first drop-in meeting for members of staff who are on casualised contracts.

We are keen to offer you a safe space to discuss any concerns or issues you are having in the workplace and an opportunity to build links between workers with similar employment terms. During the meeting there will be options for discussion as a group or one to one.

The meeting will take place on Wednesday 31st of August at 1-2pm please join at any time during the hour if you can’t make it from the start of the meeting.

Email the branch to get a login for the meeting: ucu@lboro.ac.uk

We plan to hold these meetings regularly going forward and will try to hold them at different times on different days to allow all members of staff to attend. These meetings are open to both UCU members and other members of staff at Loughborough University, so if you have any colleagues who also fit into the above-mentioned categories please invite them to come along.

We hope to see you at the meeting.

LUCU Committee

Extraordinary General Meeting – USS/FourFights

Extraordinary General Meeting – USS/FourFights

LUCU members are invited to attend an Extraordinary General Meeting to discuss the USS & Four Fights disputes on Friday 6th May at 1pm. The meeting will be held on Microsoft Teams. 

The Four Fights sector conference has voted to: 

•            call a marking and assessment boycott 

•            call 10 days of strike action 

•            keep the Four Fights and USS disputes, and action called in them, coupled

We have been asked by the UCU Higher Education committee to consult our members ahead of a branch delegates meeting on the 10th May and the HEC meeting later that week. A key question for consideration is:  

When does your branch believe would be the most effective start date for 10 days of strike action in your institution? 

A. Monday 6 June (this is the earliest possible date) 

B. Monday 13 June  

C. Other (please give more information – operational issues may make it impossible to accede to specific requests)  

The EGM offers members the opportunity to discuss how our branch can best manage the results of the HEC decisions and best manage the dispute at a local level.

The results of the Four Fights sector conference are available, and we should receive the results of the USS sector conference before our EGM so both can be discussed at the meeting. 

An agenda and minutes of our previous GM, a calendar invite and link to join have been emailed to all members.

LUCU Committee

General Assembly: Notice of Postponement

General Assembly: Notice of Postponement

We have received many messages from members about the timing of the meeting on Friday and about the lack of an option to attend online. We raised your concerns with management. Due to staff availability, we were informed that it was not possible to set up a hybrid meeting this week; hence, we have requested a postponement. We are in discussions with management about rescheduling the meeting at a more convenient time and in a hybrid format so that as many members as possible can attend.

However, developments in the USS dispute continue at a fast pace. LUCU will be using the time originally scheduled for the GA on Friday to meet with the Vice-Chancellor and Chief Operating Officer to discuss building consensus following the next valuation, which is likely to be more favourable than the valuation conducted at the height of the pandemic. LUCU will be pushing for the restoration of benefits. We will also ask management to respond to the issues raised in the two motions tabled for the GA. Depending on what arises from the discussion, and the response to the motions, there may not be a need to reschedule the GA.

We will feedback to members about the outcome of the meeting as soon as possible

LUCU Committee

Extraordinary General Assembly

Extraordinary General Assembly

The General Assembly is the University’s representative forum whose purpose is to allow all staff to “discuss and declare an opinion on any matter relating to the University” and “if it so decides, submit resolutions to the Council or Senate” (Statute 15). 

In light of recent USS developments, Loughborough UCU has called an extraordinary meeting of the General Assembly to discuss two matters: 

  • Whether, given the role that the General Assembly has in the University’s democratic structures, it is appropriate to hold General Assemblies when UCU members are unable to attend due to participating in official strike action.  
  • Whether the Council has adequately fulfilled its obligations in light of recent changes to the USS pension scheme. 

The full text of the two motions we have asked to be discussed is given below. 

University management has scheduled the Extraordinary General Assembly for 4pm on Friday 29th April.  

If you would like your views on USS to be heard, please attend the meeting. We will send a calendar invite in addition to this message.  

We are yet to receive details of the location of the meeting or the Teams link enabling online attendance, but will circulate them when they are known. 

Motion 1: Organisation of General Assemblies

This Assembly notes:

– That the purpose of the General Assembly is to be a body that “consists of all staff” (Statute 15);

– UCU’s current industrial action over pay, casualisation, workload, equality pay gaps and proposed reductions to benefits in the Universities Superannuation Scheme.

This Assembly believes:

– That the General Assembly cannot fulfil its purpose if its meetings are scheduled during periods of lawful industrial action by recognised trade unions.

This Assembly resolves:

– To re-schedule future meetings that would otherwise occur during periods of industrial action.

Motion 2: Universities Superannuation Scheme

This Assembly notes:

– The changes to the benefits in the USS pension fund from 1st April 2022 which have reduced future benefit accrual by between 15% and 35%;

– That Loughborough University will be spending approximately £5.8m per year on USS “deficit recovery contributions” from 1st April 2022;

– That USS believes that the purported deficit of £14.1bn as of 31st March 2020 has reduced to £2.0bn as of 28th February 2022, a level which would require no deficit recovery contributions;

– That USS’s calculation of this £2.0bn deficit assumes that its assets will grow by only 0% in real terms, an assumption that the University’s management has previously described as “excessively prudent”;

– That USS’s assets have grown by 33% since March 2020.

– That Council has responsibility for the management and administration of the revenue and property of the University.

This Assembly believes:

– That it is not appropriate for the University to spend £5.8m per year on servicing a deficit that, on any reasonable set of financial assumptions, is non-existent;

– That by allowing the University to spend this money in this manner the Council has not adequately fulfilled its duty to properly manage and administer the revenue and property of the University.

This Assembly resolves:

– To instruct Council to properly discharge its duty to manage and administer the revenue and property of the University.

USS & Four Fights Strike Update – 15th March

USS & Four Fights Strike Update

Additional Strike Days Announced 

We will be taking an additional 5 days of strike action over USS & Four Fights from Monday 21st to Friday 25th March to put additional pressure on employers. Thank you to all our members who’ve been part of the action.

Picket Details

We will be picketing the gates of Loughborough University again from the 21st to 25th March. Picketing will start at 8am and conclude around 11am. Please let Marc Gibson know if you will be able to join the pickets.  

Re-balloting of Members 

Our current strike mandate runs out on the 3rd of May and the UCU HEC have decided to re-ballot all members at Loughborough (and the 148 other HEIs) on both Four Fights and USS to extend the strike mandate. The ballot will open on Wednesday 16th March. Please check your postal details are correct on MyUCU now, and please look out for your ballot pack arriving in the post. It should contain 2 ballots, one for USS and one for Four Fights. Please complete both and return as soon as possible. The ballot period will close on Friday 8th April.  

USS Legal Action – Crowdfunding Appeal 

This is a joint effort from many university branches who believe in fair pensions and a living planet. Its organising group includes Dr Neil Davies, Bristol UCU, and Dr Ewan McGaughey, KCL UCU and the below is taken from their latest update.

We wanted to update you about the legal action against the USS directors over cuts to our pensions and management of the USS. As you may have heard, we won our first oral hearing, and now we need to raise more to cover costs for the next on 28 March. 

If you can donate it will make a huge difference. The current pensions cuts leave many of us £100,000’s worse off in retirement (see modeller). If we win, we could get an injunction against the cuts that will happen on 1 April. We have 3 weeks to save the pension, so please donate now, and share with everyone you know!  

Legal case progress to now – In August last year, we raised £50,000 to start legal action against the USS directors. Many thanks to the over 1700 people who contributed. These donations paid for our legal team to develop our claim, which we submitted last Autumn. On the 28th of February, our barrister presented the case at an initial hearing at the High Court judge and requested permission to proceed to the next stage – a full contested hearing. We were successful, and the judge recognised the urgency of our claim and granted us a contested hearing on the 28th of March. He ruled that we have a prima facie case and that we were acting in good faith. If we are successful at the next hearing, we will be able to proceed with the legal action against the directors, which may be paid for by USS Limited (the company that runs our pensions). We have four claims: 

  • That the 2020 valuation was flawed and unnecessary 
  • USS costs are excessive 
  • The changes discriminate against women, younger and minority colleagues  
  • The USS has failed to have a credible plan to divest from fossil fuels, and this causes significant financial detriment 

Crowdfunding – However, to proceed with the next hearing, we urgently need to raise more money to cover the legal costs of the full hearing. So we would be very grateful if you could contribute to our crowdfund. Time is short, so if you could donate here asap – we would greatly appreciate it! If there is any money remaining in the crowdfund after the legal action is complete, we will use it for further legal action over the USS, for example, seeking judicial review of The Pensions Regulator. If there are no further legal options, or we get everything we want (a reasonable valuation, a cost-effective pension scheme, a pensions proposal that is not discriminatory, and divestment from fossil fuels), then we will donate any remaining funds to a charity.  

LUCU Committee 

Teach Out & Picket Details for Week 3

Teach Out & Picket Details for Week 3

Teach-out: Creating Racial Dialogue
You are invited to attend a Teach-out: Creating Racial Dialogue, hosted by Angela Martinez Dy on Monday 28th February from 10:30am – 11:30am, online via MS Teams. The teach out is open to all Loughborough University staff & students and builds on the previous work of “Building the Anti-Racist Classroom” & Collective Anti Racist Efforts (CARE) training. Please register here before Sunday 4pm to receive the link to join: https://lboro.onlinesurveys.ac.uk/event-registration-teach-out.

Please share this invite with other staff/students you think may like to attend.


Picket Details – Week 3

Thanks, again, to everyone for their efforts on the picket line so far. We wanted to remind you of the picket arrangements for next week when we will be striking over Four Fights dispute. Strike days for week three are Monday 28th Feb, Tuesday 1st March & Wednesday 2nd March.

Picket times and locations remain the same 8am – 11am daily at the main gate of the Loughborough Campus (unless you’ve agreed to attend another gate – contact M.A.Gibson@lboro.ac.uk ). London based colleagues, please keep an eye on our social media accounts for details of further London Campus pickets. Well done to all for your solidarity so far, let’s keep the pressure on and force employers back to the table.

LUCU Committee

Notice of General Meeting: USS & Four Fights

Notice of General Meeting: USS & Four Fights

LUCU members are invited to attend our branch General Meeting on Wednesday 12th January 2022 from 1pm.  This meeting is open to all members of UCU in the Loughborough University branch and will be held online via Microsoft Teams.

The agenda for this meeting will include USS Pensions and Four Fights. There is a branch delegates’ meeting preceding the HEC on the 18th January where further decisions around industrial action will be made.  This meeting will offer members the opportunity to inform how LUCU’s delegates report back to UCU on the action thus far and future strategy.

If you have a motion you wish the branch membership to consider please submit by no later than 1pm on Wednesday 5th January. If you want to raise a motion and need some help or guidance then please contact the branch secretary, Marc Gibson, who can advise or, if appropriate, put you in touch with another committee member to help.

The agenda will be sent out 1 week before the meeting along with any motions received as will a link to join the meeting.

LUCU Committee

General Meeting: Professional Services Workload

General Meeting: Professional Services Workload

You are invited to a branch general meeting on the topic of Professional Services Workload. This meeting is targeted at Professional Services staff and not all of our members will have a direct interest in this topic but all members are welcome should you be interested.

The meeting will take place on Wednesday 3rd November from 12pm to 1pm.

The meeting will be held on teams and the link has been sent to you by email.

LUCU Committee

General Meeting to discuss USS Pensions

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 Update on USS Pensions

LUCU Update on USS Pensions

University staff will have received the recent communication from Chris Linton concerning proposed changes to the USS pension scheme. As Chris explains, the proposed changes have come about because USS continues to adopt excessively prudent assumptions when valuing the scheme. In particular, USS’s assumptions about asset growth are absurdly pessimistic. In the period since the valuation date (March 2020), the scheme’s assets have grown by £19.7bn. In contrast, the assumptions in the valuation suggest that this level of growth would not have been achieved until 2110. After just one year the scheme is a full 90 years ahead of schedule!

Unfortunately, our employers have decided to push the cost of this flawed valuation onto staff. While it is true that employers have agreed to increase the level of so-called covenant support, the cost of this is at best highly speculative, that is, of the form “borrowing might cost the University a bit more in a few years”. In contrast, we are being asked to accept cuts of between 20% and 35% of our pension now. You can find out exactly how much you are being asked to sacrifice by using the USS modeller: http://ucu.org.uk/ussmodeller

We would like to address one specific section of Chris’s email in some detail. He writes that UCU developed some alternative proposals, but that these were not “formally submitted to the [Joint Negotiating Committee] for determination”. Precise, and in our view eccentric, meanings for the words “formally” and “determination” are required for this sentence to be true.

In collaboration with branch pension officers, including Loughborough’s, UCU developed a set of proposals (which can be seen in this news article). These involved sharing the costs of the flawed valuation between employers and employees. The idea was that members might be willing to accept a short-term price to avoid industrial action, so that UCU could join forces with UUK and push USS into governance reform that would permit a sensible valuation to be conducted in 2022. UCU’s proposals were submitted to the Joint Negotiating Committee (as item 3.2 in the papers for the meeting of 13th August). Unfortunately, UUK decided that they were not able to consult with employers about the proposals during August, apparently because too many people were on holiday. As a result, UUK decided that they could not provide covenant support to any proposals that were not their own. Because no occupational pension scheme can operate if employers refuse to support it, this meant that UCU’s proposals could not be put to the vote in the JNC meeting on 31st August. In short, UUK vetoed them. Notwithstanding this, Loughborough UCU has asked Loughborough University to review the UCU proposals directly. We are pleased that the University has agreed to look at them in detail, to understand them and to comment on them.

There is still time to resolve this dispute without industrial action. UUK could choose to withdraw their proposals and engage in good-faith discussions with UCU about solutions to both the short-term and long-term issues that USS’s behaviour has raised.

Unfortunately, this looks unlikely. As a result, last week UCU’s Special Higher Education Sector Conference agreed to launch an industrial action ballot.

We have called a meeting of all members to discuss the USS situation on 8th October at 1pm, and further details will be circulated in due course.

LUCU Committee