This page will present information and links concerning the dispute over the future of USS (Universities Superannuation Scheme) pensions. The latest updates from the local branch committee on the USS pensions dispute are available below, in chronological order with the most recent first.
But first, some important links and background information.
Latest update – report from the Join Expert Panel (it has an executive summary if you are short of time) – and also see the Leeds UCU reaction in the first blog post listed below
USSbriefs reports are excellent investigations and summaries of pension and related issues (from group of UCU members who came together to produce helpful materials about pensions and related issues). If you only have time to read one of their reports, pick this summary (USSbriefs44)
We went on strike for 14 days in February and March 2018 to protect our pensions. The employers wanted to move USS to a ‘Defined Contribution’ scheme, with no guaranteed pension benefits and lower retirement income. We have recently learned that our own University was among a minority that wanted a full shift to Defined Contribution. A typical lecturer would lose about £10k a year in retirement and early career staff would suffer badly (depending on vagaries of the markets). The strikes ended with an agreement to set up a Joint Expert Panel (JEP) to consider the scheme’s highly disputed valuation.
The Joint Expert Panel published their first report in September (see link above), which largely validates the arguments that UCU has been making for many years about the USS valuation. See our blog post about this, the national UCU response, and the @USSbriefs reaction. There will now be negotiations between UCU and Universities UK to finalise the 2017 valuation and thence any future pensions changes.
UCU will democratically decide what to do next in November. There was much discussion of the pensions dispute at the annual UCU Congress and at the follow up Higher Education special sector conference on USS. We certainly hope that our pensions can be preserved without further industrial action, especially since the JEP report is so much in our favour. Watch this space…
Members meeting on 10 December passed 8 motions deciding branch strategy, policy and decisions: Motion 3: USS pensions Motion 4: Motion of no confidence in University of Leeds Council USS decisions Motion 5: Supporting Vicky Blake’s Candidacy for UCU Vice President Motion 6: Continuing consequences of the IT reorganisation Motion 7: Responding to the Proposed Centralisation of Timetabling Motion 8: Anti-casualisation claim Motion 1: Re-affiliation and resubscription to Labour Research Department Motion 2: Re-affiliation to Leeds Trades Unions Council Motion 3: USS pensions Leeds University UCU notes that individual employer responses to USS consultations are now in the public domain.We are disappointed that the University of Leeds management has consistently positioned itself amongst the ‘hawks’ in this respect.We are embarrassed that our employer continues to maintain this untenable approach, notably on the critical issue of ‘risk’, in the face of contrary findings published by the Joint Expert Panel (JEP). Motion 4 of no confidence in University of Leeds Council USS decisions University of Leeds UCU branch notes That as the governing body of the University, the Council has a responsibility to act openly, transparently and in the best interests of staff and students and other stakeholders. The University of Leeds …continue reading
You will have received an email recently from Jill Nimmo, forwarding a USS communication in which they offer a brief summary of the cost-sharing consultation with members that took place over the summer, and which was in effect eclipsed by the publication of the JEP report in September. They refer to the JEP by all but name in a second paragraph headed ‘Alternative Proposals’, and point out that a subsequent survey of employers indicated that employers are broadly willing to adopt the JEP recommendations. They then point out that they intend to run a new valuation, dated at 31 March 2018. The implications of this new valuation need then to be consulted upon, and they explain that this will then mean that any new payment arrangements which could be agreed will be too late to be implemented, and the first tranche of the emergency increase in employer and employee contributions will come into effect in April 2019. This will mean an increase in member contributions from 8% or salary to 8.8%, and an increase of employer contributions from 18% to 19.5%. We presume that any subsequent agreed change to contributions as a consequence of the March 2018 valuation and related …continue reading
Some members have received a letter from USS saying that because of a ‘technical glitch’ they won’t get an automatic pension statement. This seems to be members with more complicated pension calculations. In a statement, USS says this affects around 1% of the pension scheme members. Rather than manually calculate a pensions statement for those members as a matter of course, USS says it will produce on on request within 20 days. Full USS statement including how to request a manual statement for members who won’t receive an automatic one: www.uss.co.uk/news/all-news/2018/11/annual-member-statements …continue reading
Last Wednesday our elected Leeds delegates had a double dose of special Higher Education Sector Conferences (HESCs) which had been called to decide the next steps for UCU in two higher education disputes: Quick summary 1. The Pay and Equality dispute (Wednesday morning) It was decided to have a UK-wide re-ballot in the new year, highlighting the casualisation, equality, and workload aspects of the dispute alongside pay. See more detailed Pay & Equality report below. 2. The Pensions dispute (specifically what next after the JEP report on USS) (Wednesday afternoon) After the Joint Expert Panel Report and recent revelations about USS valuation methods, the conference advised UCU to negotiate for no increase in our USS contributions and and end to so-called “de-risking”. See more detailed Pensions dispute report below. The Higher Education Committee of UCU and our union negotiators will take forward these decisions and advice. 1. Pay and Equality dispute The first HESC, on the Pay and Equality dispute, was quorate, which means that its decisions complement, confirm, or supersede those taken by the Higher Education Committee (HEC) the previous week. Decisions taken at the meeting (including amendments) can be downloaded via this link: https://www.ucu.org.uk/media/9939/HESC-1118-pay-decisions/doc/UCU9057Nov18_-_Decisions.doc All the original motion texts can be seen …continue reading
Our University was one of the institutions that wanted us to lose Defined Benefits altogether.UCU National Disputes Committee adopts a ‘No Detriment’ positionUSS letter proposes using an updated March 2018 valuation to supersede the March 2017 valuation Our University’s position on last year’s UUK proposal to end to Defined Benefits Members at Leeds may have seen the recent release of the University of Leeds’s recent responses to UUK surveys of its members over the USS pensions scheme. What these documents tell us is that our University is among the most hawkish in willing an end to your Defined Benefit pension and that, in something of a volte-face given that early verdict, they have conceded that the UUK should adopt the JEP recommendations. We link to these documents at the bottom of this page.Michael Otsuka, who has been instrumental in commenting on and explaining the various vagaries of the pensions dispute, has described our recorded university’s position as “foaming at the mouth alarmist in their claims of DB” and pointed out that our employer was one of the minority that advocated a shift to 100% defined contributions – the base cause of last year’s strike. Professor Otsuka highlights the insensitivity of our …continue reading