Today’s meeting was very well-attended: more than 80 members were present to discuss the latest proposed changes to USS, which is a higher turnout than any previous meeting on the issue at Nottingham. This is a clear indication of the strength of feeling in the local branch on the proposed changes to members’ pensions, and the discussion that followed only confirmed this.
Liz Lawrence, the National Union President, opened the proceedings with an overview of the proposals, which was followed by questions and contributions from members. The meeting then moved on to discuss two motions tabled by Andreas Bieler (seconded by Claire Lawrence). After a lively and at times empassioned debate, both motions were carried with an emphatic majority.
Motion 1 to recommend rejection of the offer: (57 in favour, 10 opposed, 9 abstentions)
This UCU branch believes that the current ‘potential agreement’ offer represents a major cut in pensions. The offer accepts the parameters of the huge projected deficit, and cuts pensions to fill this gap. As well as ending Final Salary, it concedes the principle of a Defined Contribution element for contributions over £55,000 for which the Employer pays 12% instead of 18%, that provides members with no certainty about the value of their pension, and paves the way for future concessions.
This UCU branch therefore calls on all members to vote to reject the offer, and to demand HEC officers call hard-hitting industrial action to win the dispute.
Motion 2 to call for a Higher Education Sector Conference: (61 in favour, 3 opposed, 10 abstentions)
This UCU branch supports the call for the requisition of a Special HE Sector Conference under rule 16.10 to debate the campaigns to defend pensions in HE, and to defend the capacity of the UCU to call industrial action short of a strike as part of those campaigns.
Motion 3 – the meeting agreed to reduce the quorum for branch meetings from 50 to 30 (proposed by John Barrett and seconded by Pat Hulme).