Yesterday, our university management posted an update on the USS Pension scheme, under “latest news” which has led to queries from members. The university management’s statement contains a wholly inaccurate claim that the USS pensions dispute is “not a national ballot” and goes on to claim the “University is the subject of a dispute which we have no power to resolve.”
In fact, save for one detail, UCU is following the same process as we always do in a national ballot – which is to serve individual ballot notices to each institution on whose behalf negotiations are being conducted.
The only difference in this ballot is that, as our first national ballot since the unfair, anti-trade union Trade Union Act passed in 2016, every ballot now has to pass a 50 per cent threshold before action can take place. UCU has therefore decided to count each ballot separately in order to maximise the opportunity for branches to take action and minimise the possibility that low turnout in one or two institutions would stop action elsewhere. Every USS branch is being balloted, and this is a national campaign.
Two Leeds UCU officers (Lesley and Vicky) are members of the UCU’s Higher Education Committee. They were both present at the meeting which voted decisively, and with unity, to move to the ballot in this national dispute. We absolutely assure you that the claims made by management to the contrary are erroneous.
Yesterday we wrote to you to suggest you write to the Vice Chancellor (firstname.lastname@example.org) to ask several questions – here they are again:
- Under the UUK proposals can you tell me what my retirement income will be?
- Under the UUK proposals will my pension benefits now be significantly worse than those in post-92 universities?
- Will the University of Leeds please formally request evidence of the modelling that has been provided by Universities UK?
- Will the VC take action to stand up for staff and for the difficulty we will face in attracting staff to work in a UK university without an adequate pension scheme?
Please note that these questions are important because, contrary to senior management’s assertions in the 29 November update, every University does indeed have power to affect the course of negotiations – we ask that our VC follows the example set by Warwick and Glasgow universities by standing up for our pensions.