Cutting through the spin on USS

Reporting a Russell Group statement of principles for the USS pension scheme (5 July 2021), UoN management referred to:

… UUK alternative proposals to maintain USS as a hybrid Defined Benefit/Defined Contributions scheme with no increases in contributions to the scheme by members, backed up by employers offering further, stronger covenant support measures.

Is this the whole truth? No.

It’s spin.  “Maintain USS … with no increases in contributions … by members” fails to point out that the UUK proposals will lead to a much worse scheme for members.

This is how UUK, supported by management at the University of Nottingham, wants to cut your pension:

  • now, your pension grows by 1/75th of salary for every year you work; UUK proposals would cut this to 1/85th – cutting pensions by 12%
  • now, every pound you earn up to £59,800 adds to the secure defined benefit element of your pension; UUK proposals would cut this threshold to £40,000
  •  now, inflation can’t erode the buying power of your pension unless it exceeds 5%; UUK proposals would cut this protection to 2.5%

To see what impact these proposals will have on your pension, visit the modeller provided by UCU here.

UUK represents the interests of employers in USS negotiations. UCU represents the interests of everyone who is eligible to join USS. UCU opposes these damaging UUK proposals.

Graduate Teaching Assistant’s contract

The following motion was passed at the branch meeting on Wednesday March 10th

This meeting notes:

●  That the University of Nottingham People and HR Committee has approved a new Graduate Teaching Assistant (GTA) model of engaging Postgraduate Researchers (PGRs) in paid independent teaching work (e.g. preparing and delivering lectures/seminars, providing contact hours with students, marking assessments).

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Solidarity with the Civil Disobedience Movement in Myanmar

This Motion to Congress was passed at the branch meeting on Wednesday March 10th

Congress notes: 

  1. That the military in Myanmar have seized power and are conducting mass arrests of activists across the country. 
  2. That part of the Civil Disobedience Movement is organised from university campuses, involving student-led protests and strikes by academics. 
  3. That the military is brutally suppressing this resistance, arresting at gunpoint a union leader at Yangon University, Professor Arkar Moe Thu, on 2 March 2021.

Congress resolves:

  1. To extend our solidarity to the Civil Disobedience Movement, and to demand the release of Professor Arkar Moe Thu and others held by the regime. 
  2. To negotiate for students applying from Myanmar to be allowed to use alternative criteria to the IELTS exam due to internal restrictions in the country. 
  3. To demand that universities audit their investments and partners to sever connections with organisations and individuals that are linked to the Burmese military. 

Motion on Health & Safety

The following motion was passed at the Wednesday 3rd February branch meeting.

This meeting notes:

  • the emergence of new, more infectious variants of the coronavirus.

This union branch believes:

  • The UK’s awful record in relation to Covid-19 deaths is directly attributable to the government’s mishandling of the pandemic, with national guidance marked by u-turns, slow responses, and the erroneous belief that economic health could be prioritised over human health. This has been experienced very acutely in the higher education sector where the drive for face to face provision has contributed directly to infection surges among students and the wider community.
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