USS dispute – Email to members 28/11/14

Dear UCU colleague

You will obviously be aware that the Higher Education Committee of the NEC met last week and agreed to suspend the assessment boycott pending further negotiations with the employers. Part of the agreement to suspend that action was an undertaking from the employers not to make any salary deductions for action taken when the boycott commenced. At the University of Nottingham you will have received an email from the Director of HR confirming that commitment locally.

We clearly hope that the negotiations will now generate a positive outcome. The union has already indicated its willingness to negotiate by offering its own proposals. We know these are controversial, but they do demonstrate the union’s willingness to negotiate.

The extended period of negotiation, which was achieved by UCU’s industrial action, has given more time to analyse the issues. As a consequence there is more opportunity to scrutinise the employers’ assessment of the USS fund. There is already evidence that UCU’s view that the employers’ analysis is flawed and unnecessarily pessimistic is gaining increasing traction. (See this letter in the THE from leading statisticians – http://www.timeshighereducation.co.uk/comment/letters/false-assumptions-of-the-uss/2016525.article and the response of Imperial here – https://workspace.imperial.ac.uk/college/Public/pdfs/PDFS/Imperial%20response%20to%20UUK%20on%20USS%20technical%20provisions_final.pdf)

However, despite being hopeful of securing an outcome that not only protects the principle of a 100% defined benefits pension, but offers an improved pension for those in the career average scheme, we recognise we need to maintain pressure on the employers to meet our demands.

Since the lifting of the boycott the branch committee has met and agreed the following actions. Please support these where you can. Whether we are successful in this dispute will ultimately depend on the extent to which the broad membership of the union, and indeed the HE sector generally, is willing to stand up for the right to expect that working in a university provides a decent salary with a decent pension.

We ask you to:

  1. Mobilise to support the national UCU petition. You have received communications about this from Sally Hunt – we want as many colleagues at the University of Nottingham to sign this – the petition is here – https://www.ucu.org.uk/demandafairuss
  1. Support our Solidarity Fund – as soon as the boycott action was introduced we established a local Solidarity Fund whereby those members not involved in the boycott could support members who were. In a very short space of time the fund raised over £3000. We believe it is important to continue to build this fund in case the action is reintroduced. You can contribute to this fund by donating via:

Bank Name: Unity Trust Bank
Name of account: UCU Nottingham LA63
Account Number: 20057745
Sort Code: 08-60-01

  1. Support our members’ meeting – the local branch has agreed to organise a major members’ meeting on Monday 12th January 1-2pm. This will be in the week that the negotiations seek to come to a conclusion. This will be a significant meeting and we are trying to secure a national level speaker. Please put the date in your diary – more details will follow.
  1. Finally, we ask you to discuss these issues with your colleagues – both colleagues in and outside of the union. Please raise the issues, and help build the collective sense of grievance about the unnecessary attack on our pension rights. We have already held many successful meetings in individual Schools – if you would like to organise such a meeting with a Committee member attending/speaking, please contact the union office.

Thank you for your continued support for the union and it’s campaign.

University of Nottingham UCU Branch Committee

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