Dear UCU member
We trust you had a good break over the holiday period and send you belated greetings for the new year.
There is much going on locally for the UCU branch but the purpose of this email is to bring you up to date regarding the USS dispute. News of other developments will be reported shortly.
After industrial action by UCU members the employers agreed not to force a vote on their proposals for USS scheme changes, but to extend negotiations. UCU in turn agreed to suspend its action to allow the negotiations to take place. Since then, before and after Christmas, a number of meetings have taken place between the employers and the union (during this time it has become clear that many individual universities are critical of the employers’ proposals, whilst UCU’s critique of the valuation methodology has also become more widely accepted).
When UCU suspended its action it indicated the assessment boycott would be re-imposed on 16th January if negotiations did not make satisfactory progress. The union has since given notice to all pre-1992 universities that the industrial action will recommence on 16th January – it is obliged to give this notice by law.
UCU has called a meeting of the Higher Education Committee for 14th January (Wednesday) where union negotiators will report back. We expect that meeting to decide how the union will proceed with its campaign and whether the boycott will be reintroduced. Please look out for your emails from Wednesday onwards. The local branch will of course provide advice as soon as we are aware of any decisions.
Before Christmas the local branch announced a members’ meeting for Monday 12th January. Given the timeline of events outlined above, and the importance of knowing the outcome of the HEC meeting, our branch meeting now seems inappropriately timed – and this meeting is cancelled. Instead we will be holding a members’ meeting on:
Monday 19th January
Clive Granger Building
This will be single item agenda meeting focused on the dispute and the union’s campaign. If industrial action has recommenced it will be an important opportunity to clarify any issues relating to the action and also ensure our campaign gets off to the best possible start. Please make every effort to attend.
The timing of this action is likely to have almost immediate impact (unlike when the boycott was first imposed). However, it is still likely to be the case that many members will not be involved, or not immediately involved. In order to provide maximum support to those members involved (including PhD students who may be involved) the local branch has established a Solidarity Fund. We do urge members to contribute, especially if not involved in taking the action. This is an important way in which as union members we can support each other. Contributions can be paid direct into the Local Association’s bank account and the local committee has established a process for ensuring funds are disbursed appropriately. Account details are:
Bank Name: Unity Trust Bank
Name of account: UCU Nottingham LA63
Account Number: 20057745
Sort Code: 08-60-01
Should the action not proceed, or there is action but no loss of pay (as occurred before Christmas), any contributions will be refunded.
In conclusion, we clearly hope the negotiations will be successful. However, we must be prepared for an outcome where this is not the case. Industrial action is always difficult but it may be the only way we can defend our pensions. Failure to stand together will inevitably lead to the continued erosion of this important entitlement. The real value of our pay declines, whilst employer proposals will result in swingeing cuts in our pensions. At the same time work pressures intensify, casualisation increases and employment protection legislation is being dismantled. This will only stop when we stand together and refuse to accept the mantra that ‘there is no alternative’. There are alternatives, and as workers in universities, we must believe we can create them. Our campaign is based on our commitment to the dignity of work, appropriately rewarded with decent pay and a fair pension.
We look forward to your continued support for the union. It is always hugely valued.
University of Nottingham UCU Branch Committee