Four Fights and USS disputes

We are at a critical historical juncture for our union and our sector.

UCU has been vindicated on the question of the USS projected deficit, with even the most conservative assumptions yielding no need for deficit recovery contributions on the current monitoring valuation. But cuts in our future benefits premised on so-called “deficit recovery contributions” are being implemented from 1 April 2022. UCU has called on VCs to ‘seize the moment’ and stop the cuts.

The cuts are:

  • A universal 11.6% reduction in the rate of accrual of the Defined Benefit scheme.
  • A cut in the threshold for Defined Contribution to £40,000.
  • Reducing the pension inflation-proofing cap from 5-10% to 2.5% (delayed to 2025). This means the DB pension built up from today will be cut in real terms if CPI goes above 2.5% after that date.

On USS, there are three actions you can take:

UCU has produced a pension modeller that shows around 30-40% reduction in take home pension at retirement. USS produced a similar one but withdrew it when it obtained similar results. These cuts roll forward, so affect the youngest members the greatest.

In our Four Fights dispute, the employers have made no movement on last year’s pay offer, which we are in dispute over. However, with inflation rising to the highest in recent memory, they are under pressure for the forthcoming year.

Universities like UCL will (correctly) say that escalating fuel prices increase their costs. But will they invest in staff? Over the last decade, the employers have chosen to invest in buildings and ‘capital projects’ rather than staff and the proportion of budgets allocated to staff costs has fallen, while seeing record income from student tuition fees. It’s time to fight back against a business model which exploits and overworks staff and embeds inequality.

  • Click here to donate to the central UCU Fighting Fund. The fighting fund supports members involved in disputes, including the provision of strike pay where appropriate.
  • Donate to the local UCL UCU Hardship Fund:
    Account name: UCU University College London Branch Hardship Fund
    Account number: 20391553
    Sort code: 60-83-01
    Reference: 'Voluntary Levy'

The Four Fights dispute demands job security, manageable workloads, equality (national action to close gender, race and disability pay gaps), and a £2.5K pay rise across all grades.