USS Ballot – a message from University of Nottingham UCU Branch Commitee

Dear UCU member

Please forgive this lengthy email, but the issues are very important. We hope you will take time to read the contents, consider the issues, and then participate in the union’s democratic decision-making processes.

You will by now be aware of the threats to pensions currently posed to all members of the USS. These have been outlined in emails you will have received from UCU General Secretary Sally Hunt.

The issues are complex, but are outlined clearly in this article in the THES . There is also a helpful YouTube video made by UCU members at University of Leeds.

UCU has also commissioned its own study to demonstrate the impact on individual members.

UCU does not accept the employers’ pessimistic analysis of the value of the USS fund. The union disputes the methodology being used to value the fund, and it absolutely rejects the proposals currently presented to address the claimed deficit.

It is the view of UCU negotiators, endorsed at a national conference in Manchester (at which University of Nottingham UCU had a full delegation) that UCU’s negotiating position must be backed by the threat of industrial action if it is to be effective. We are all very aware that we were involved in extensive industrial action last year, and UCU is not picking this fight now.  But the scale of the attack on one of our most fundamental benefits (our pension is, after all, deferred pay) is such that we feel we have no option.  It is clear that if we wish to retain the rights we currently have, and that we have worked for, we must be prepared to fight for them.

On 1st October you will receive a ballot asking you to support strike action, and action short of strike action, should USS negotiations break down.

University of Nottingham UCU Branch Committee has considered this position (and which was informed by a well attended members’ meeting on 18th September).  We are urging members to respond as follows:

1) VOTE – whatever your views, whether you vote ‘yes’ or ‘no’, we urge all members to vote. This is a serious issue and the stakes are high. As union officers we need to know we are acting on the clear will of the membership. The only way we can be certain of this is through securing the highest possible turnout.  Please – use your vote.

2) At the Manchester conference all University of Nottingham delegates voted to ballot for strike action, and action short of strike action.  We WANT all our members to vote in this ballot. We HOPE you will VOTE YES.  A summary of why you should vote YES – to both ballot questions – is available here .

3) Respect the ballot result. We obviously hope that negotiations are productive and industrial action is unnecessary. However, should that not be the case, and assuming a successful YES vote, then the union will be calling on members to take industrial action. We will be asking all members to respect the democratic decision of the membership and to act as agreed. As a union we take decisions together, and we will need to act together. This will be the only way we will defend this attack on our rights.

As a Committee we will endeavour to keep all members fully up to date with developments, and provide maximum opportunity for members to participate in decisions about the conduct of the campaign.

We will report regularly via www.uonucu.org, and you can also follow us on twitter via @uonucu.

If you have any questions, please contact the union office at ucu@nottingham.ac.uk

Thankyou for taking the time to read this email.  We hope you agree the issues are very important to all of us. For this reason, it is vital we all VOTE in the ballot. We are asking you to VOTE YES.

Thankyou for your support for the union

Branch Committee, University of Nottingham UCU

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