Tuesday 9 April 1-2pm: USS Pensions Open Meeting: with UCU Pensions Rep Mark Taylor-Batty and UCU national USS negotiator Sam Marsh
Mechanical Engineering LT B (2.37) (Open to members + non-members – bring colleagues!)
Our pensions rep Mark Taylor-Batty and Sam Marsh (one of UCU’s elected national negotiators on USS) will give an update on the current situation and lead discussion with members. Please bring your questions too! We have deliberately timed this meeting to fall after the next USS negotiation meeting between UCU and UUK.
You can help to publicise this by printing and distributing this leaflet.
The employers’ body Universities UK (UUK) has recently conducted a consultation of member institutions regarding the USS 2018 pension scheme valuation. UUK has written to USS with a summary of the institutional responses which they have published [here]. The University of Leeds put its consultation response online yesterday, which is [here].
We (UCU) have many and growing concerns in the sector over the governance of the USS pension scheme, and poor communications from the USS executive. You can read the latest statement from the UCU National Disputes Committee which was convened after Congress 2018 to steer the USS dispute [here].
We had hoped that our University position would take full account of these concerns. We note that several other key employers in the USS scheme have consulted with UCU branches on these important issues and/or have taken a much more critical / questioning position in their consultation responses, and have made these concerns public. For example, the University of Oxford and the University of Sheffield, have rejected the call for contingent contributions. Sheffield goes further and argues that the institution “continues to have serious concerns regarding the approach taken by the USS Trustee to the 2018 Valuation”. The Deputy director of HR at Sheffield wrote “the contentious nature of the methodology adopted by the USS Trustee in undertaking both the 2017 and 2018 Valuations, and the lack of transparency and explanation/rationale behind decisions and positions of the Trustee, is leading once again to a position whereby key stakeholders do not have trust in the figures and outcomes resulting from the latest valuation.” We find it difficult to believe that the University of Leeds council have been able to look at all the given information and not also come to this same conclusion. The University of Bristol express disappointment that the USS trustees have not “fully reflected the JEP’s recommendations in the 2018 valuation technical proposals to date.” The University of Edinburgh make a similar point and ask for further commentary on that decision. The University of Newcastle, in a similar vein, reiterate that they “support all the recommendations made by the JEP”. The University of Warwick specifically foregrounded the JEP’s assessment and criticism of ‘Test 1’. The University of Bristol’s recommendation that USS should appoint more member-nominated trustees is a proposal we would wish our own employer seriously to consider backing.
What next? Come to this meeting to be part of the discussions we will feed back to UCU at the UK-wide level. We have fought hard to defend our pensions — to keep doing this we need to make sure everyone knows what’s going on and that members are able to feed into what happens next.