Update on USS negotiations
I write to update you on developments arising from the negotiations between UCU and representatives of the USS institutions.
You will recall that during negotiations last year, UCU was able to protect the final salary benefits of current members, but unable to stop the employers imposing a whole raft of other draconian changes.
Since USS imposed the employers’ proposed changes to the scheme UCU has been fighting back in order to secure improved benefits. Issues raised include: the accrual rate; redundancy provision; inflation capping; and revaluation indices.
Over the last few months your negotiators have been pressing the employers’ representatives on the need for urgent movement on:
- the right to an unreduced pension on redundancy
- the need to review the CARE scheme imposed by USS from 1 October 2011
Following a period of industrial action including both strikes and action short of a strike, the employers have now agreed to move on the following immediate steps:
- first, they have agreed to jointly review the decision to abolish the right of staff age 55 or over to take an unreduced pension. Rather than end in October 2013 as originally imposed, this entitlement will now continue to at least October 2014 to allow the review to conclude
- second, they have agreed to jointly review the USS CARE scheme imposed on new starters last year and compare benefits to that in other public sector pension schemes such as the Teachers Pension Scheme where UCU has been able to negotiate some terms which may be better than in USS. This review will examine issues raised by UCU such as accrual rates, inflation capping and revaluation.
You can read full details of the offer here: http://www.ucu.org.uk/circ/pdf/UCUHE129.pdf
No one should pretend we have yet achieved all we set out to do. Nor should we attempt to predict with any certainty that the two proposed joint reviews will produce enough over the next few months to finally call off our dispute.
However, having been present at the talks, I have seen at first hand how hard your elected negotiators have worked to achieve a breakthrough in what are extremely challenging circumstances. They deserve your and my grateful thanks for getting us this far.
A conference of branches and local associations will take place on 31 January to decide whether to accept the negotiating team’s recommendation that UCU suspend its current action in order to participate in the joint reviews.
Your branch or local association will no doubt be consulting you over the next few days as to how they should vote on your behalf at the decision making conference. Some branches are holding local ballots and surveys on the proposals as well as meetings, a principle I wholeheartedly support. Whatever the forum, please participate so your voice is heard before we decide our next steps.
Finally, your elected negotiators have asked me to thank you for your magnificent support during this dispute so far without which, in their view, progress would have been impossible.
As usual please feel free to contact me if you have any questions or comments.
Best as ever
UCU general secretary