UCU Committee message to management on 19 May 2021 re USS:

Dear Vice Chancellor, Chair of Council, Deputy Vice Chancellor and Registrar, 

I am writing on behalf of the local UCU committee to express our grave concern about UoN management’s shift away from questioning USS’s valuation method toward accepting the most recent UUK proposals. We note that, if implemented, the UUK proposals would imply significant cuts to our members’ pensions including the following:  

  1. DB (defined benefits) salary threshold reduced to £40k. Currently we receive DB for income up to about ~£60k. This would bring all but the lowest paid members into the Defined Contribution (DC) scheme, significantly reducing benefits, and constitutes a step in bringing back the DC scheme that industrial action threw out in 2018.
      
  2. Accrual rate reduced to 1/85 (from the current 1/75) cutting the value of future pension by 12%.
      
  3. Reduction in inflation proofing to 2.5%. Currently it is up to 10%. Inflation has been high in the past and could increase again. If inflation does increase, our pensions could be very quickly reduced to only a fraction of their current value. 
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Transparent, participatory financial decision-making? Not at the University of Nottingham!

Following up on our Alternative Financial Strategy, UoN’s UCU committee has approached management to share its new, updated Medium Term Financial Plan (MTFP) with us. This is the document that sets out the University’s financial plans for the medium term, the current plan covers the period until 2025. The MTFP is a tool to implement the University’s Strategy. Management has, however, refused to share the MTFP. We have been told that it would be made available only after it has been approved by the University’s Finance Committee and Council in the summer. That is, the union can only see the Plan after it has been decided and therefore not open to revision or amendment.

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University of Nottingham UCU’s Alternative Financial Strategy – because there is a better way.

Earlier this year the University of Nottingham UCU branch launched its Alternative Financial Strategy. This was produced by engaging an external expert in higher education finances and drawing on the relevant disciplinary expertise of UoN’s branch members. The Strategy was overwhelmingly endorsed by members. It represents a response to the impact of the pandemic but also makes a longer-term case for managing the University’s finances differently and for making financial management in the University more open and democratic.

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A new attack on USS pensions

The Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) is facing a renewed attack by the employers’ representatives, Universities UK (UUK).

Sam Marsh, one of UCU’s USS national negotiators, joined our branch meeting on 5 May to explain how we got to the current situation, what’s at stake, the implications of UUK’s proposals and UCU’s proposals to resolve the situation.

You can watch Sam’s presentation here.

You can view Sam’s slides here
https://uonucu.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/uss_update-SM-slides-for-talk.pdf

Response to the report of the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities

The report of the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities was commissioned in the wake of last summer’s mass protests in over sixty countries and over several localities in Britain following the killing of George Floyd in the USA. The Black Lives Matter movement and mass protests meant that the struggle for racial justice become more relevant than ever.

The report’s main theme is an attempt to shift decades of understanding of the role of structural factors in determining the life chances of Britain’s ethnic minority population, to a focus on the failings of groups and individuals. The narrative of the report presents a view that for some ethnic minority groups, they have ‘never had it so good’. Whilst for others their lack of success or progress is reflective of the inability to grasp the boundless opportunities. Within this perspective, the importance of notions of institutional and structural racism, in understanding race and ethnic disparities/inequality are out of favour.

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