Provost says "Not a penny more…" on pensions or salaries - vote to defend USS

15 December 2017

As your local Branch Officers met on Tuesday this week with UCL senior management to discuss UCL's position on the proposed changes to the USS we learn that the UCL Provost has claimed that there will be "not a penny more" for the USS.

The meeting heard from the Directors of Finance and HR and the Vice Provost Operations that UCL is prioritising spending on estates and improving the "student experience", defends the cost of the thirty-plus individuals earning salaries of £200k or more and is not reconsidering the role of the VPs offices that have grown from 400 non-academic staff to over 800 with budgets that now stretch into the tens of millions.

We were seeking in the short term an agreement to extend the negotiating period beyond the UUK-imposed deadline of 18th December and that UCL would convey this to UUK.  Unlike other universities, such as Glasgow, SOAS and Warwick, UCL refused - even though they did accept that some of the modelling work had still not been provided, leaving both members and negotiators unsure of the full detrimental impact of the proposed changes to the scheme.

The discussion made clear that UCL supports the hard line taken by the UUK (that the Defined Benefit scheme be closed and all forced to contribute to a Defined Contribution scheme).

Our view is choices between expansion and growth are just that, choices, and that a failure to invest in staff shows a contempt for the work we do and our pivotal position in a HE institution. See our analysis of HE spending priorities here.

That in the face of continuous real terms pay cuts over ten-plus years (and UCL's leading role in this at UUK), failure to even discuss the ten year freeze on the London allowance, and now a refusal to even consider increasing the employer contribution to the USS, we must conclude that UCL thinks its staff are servants and subordinates, and treats us as a disposable resource.

That on the one hand they boast about £40million surplus and then claim the institution is falling apart (the Vice Provost Operations stated that there were "major building service failures everywhere").

Our response must be to ensure that we cast our votes in the ballot for industrial action to defend the USS and encourage our colleagues to join the UCU to strengthen our campaign (colleagues that join prior to 12 January will receive a ballot paper). If you cannot find your ballot paper click here to request another.

UCL UCU Executive Committee.