Tripartite statement regarding industrial disputes
24 March 2023
Loughborough University, Loughborough UCU and Loughborough Students’ Union have been meeting regularly during the current industrial disputes to explore what is at issue and to consider how progress might be made.
While our perspectives are diverse, the collaborative way of working that we have developed has enabled us to address effectively and constructively those issues which have a local dimension. We have also discussed what is at stake nationally.
Our position on the several strands of the disputes is summarised here:
- Pensions. We believe that an evidence-based valuation of the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) should be completed as soon as possible. This assessment of the scheme’s assets and liabilities, and its future performance, should be ‘moderately prudent’. Any positive adjustments resulting from this new valuation should prioritise the improvement of members’ benefits over reductions to employer /employee contribution rates from their current levels. We welcome the recent developments in relation to this.
- Pay. We acknowledge that this is the most challenging of the current issues. The regulated undergraduate student fee that is universities’ most significant income stream has barely changed in a decade – and it remains frozen during this period of high inflation when institutions’ costs, such as energy, have increased sharply. The income of university staff has lagged similarly in this time, with a series of below-inflation pay awards – and current high prices are undoubtedly having a significant impact on staff, too. While the 2023 pay award has been implemented, we remain mindful of staff’s situation. We also join other voices in encouraging a longer-term review of the university funding model (a review that should be creative and not focus only on raising students’ fees).
- Working conditions (pay inequality, casualisation, workload). We recognise that addressing these questions is crucial to the well-being and sustainability of the sector. Universities must offer a fair, decent and healthy working environment to all. At Loughborough, while further work remains to be done, good progress is being made on these fronts – and we encourage employers and unions at all HE institutions to tackle pay gaps, casualised contracts and high workloads in a similar spirit of partnership.
We do not underestimate the complexities of these multiple issues and the challenges involved in finding fair outcomes. However, it is crucial that lasting resolutions are achieved, so as to prevent further disruption to the lives of both staff and students.
We strongly encourage all those involved in the disputes to continue working toward our shared goal: student and staff satisfaction in a Higher Education sector fit for everyone.
Loughborough Students’ Union