USS action begins

UCU general secretary Sally Hunt has written to members in institutions affected by the USS dispute explaining why they need to observe the assessment and marking boycott which began today.

Her message in full is as follows:

Dear colleague,

With effect from today, 6 November 2014, until further notice you are asked to observe the assessment boycott voted for in such overwhelming number by UCU members.

Following my last message I received thousands of messages of support for the union’s position and also many questions about what people could and could not do to support the action. We have therefore updated the frequently asked questions (FAQs) web page. If you still have questions, please let me know.

I also wanted to also let you know that the National Union of Students supports the union’s attempts to achieve a fair and sustainable settlement on behalf of members. They respectfully ask UCU members to take the time to explain to their students why you are taking action on this important issue. UCU has produced a statement here which members should feel free to adapt.

UCU continues to press the employers to draw back from their so called proposals which would have such a damaging effect upon annual pensions of they were imposed. In advance of the next negotiating meeting on 13 November, UCU has again written to all the USS institutions to ask them to use their influence with Universities UK and to outline alternative proposals which would retain defined benefits, and improve the CRB scheme and protect the value of members’ pensions as much as possible while also ensuring the sustainability of the fund. We also continue to press the case that the valuation methodology used by USS grossly exaggerates the deficit. The pressure we are able to put on the employers will be determined largely by the impact of the action you take. Please therefore help your branch and the union by letting them and us know what impact you are having however great or small.

As I write this there are no less than a dozen different approaches to the issue of pay docking by USS employers. No deduction of any kind is welcome, but the 100% per cent deductions proposed by a small number of hard line institutions represent an unethical and unfair attempt to bully members into not taking action. Members faced with the threat of such punitive deductions will of course be able to access support from the UCU strike fund, but I also wanted to promise you that the worst institutional culprits will be subjected to every form of pressure available to the union up to and including national strike action and a global academic boycott if they fail to see sense.

As I stated in my message earlier this week, there is no doubt that this next period will cause difficulties for many of you, not least in the impact upon your students. However, strong, well supported action across all 69 institutions is the only way we will be able to protect pensions.

Thank you again for your support.

Sally Hunt
UCU general secretary