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General Meeting votes: Reject UUK offer – it does not protect your pension

11 April 2018

You will have seen an earlier message (Subject: "UCU e-ballot update") from UCU asking you to accept the current pensions offer from UUK. These messages do not reveal that there is an ongoing debate on this offer, because of its considerable challenges.

To add some developing information:

  1. Yesterday a very well attended UCL UCU General Meeting voted decisively, none against and with a few abstentions, to call on members to reject the UUK offer. We are not alone. Edinburgh, Bath, Keele, Goldsmiths, Kent, Kings College London, Lancaster, Leicester, Institute of Education, Liverpool, Newcastle, Queen Mary, Ruskin, Salford, Sheffield, SOAS, Strathclyde have all had branch General Meetings or local e-ballots and voted to reject this deal (the list is growing).
  2. We have been here before. On two previous occasions (2011 and 2015) members were asked to accept a pension deal in consultative ballots. Each time our pension was significantly cut (with the latter of these – ending the final salary scheme – disproportionately impacting staff who tend to progress late up the pay spine, often including women and staff on casual contracts). In the past, similar promises were on offer (e.g. in 2014, a Panel that would look at valuations) but these cuts came anyway. In the last 2014 valuation round (voted on in 2015) the like-for-like cut in the CARE pension was 13.33%.
  3. The current offer does not commit the employers to protecting the value-for-money of your pension. The commitment is only to a 'broadly comparable' 'guaranteed' pension whose value is unclear. It is entirely possible that, following reports from the Independent Expert Panel, we face the scale of the 19%+ cut in benefit announced in the 12 March UUK offer, and the reference in this morning’s email to “Now we have won a commitment to the guaranteed pension” papers over that because it does not state which pension is guaranteed. Reference to the 'status quo' until April 2019 is not a new commitment but merely a reference to how long scheme changes need to be implemented.

Ultimately there is nothing in the agreement to stop the employers cutting pensions significantly if members vote 'Yes'. We linked a table of key problems before.

Your branch has a mandated position to protect your pensions as they are (sadly already cut massively twice before). Yesterday's General Meeting reaffirmed that position. It is for that reason that we strongly recommend you vote to reject this deal.

You might want to wait to vote until after the result of today’s meeting of the Joint Negotiating Committee of the USS scheme – which will clarify further options. We will be writing to you again when we have any news from that meeting.

As before we also recommend you look at a special resource that enterprising academics have created with briefings on different aspects of the dispute.