USS caught misrepresenting the views of the pensions regulator + the pensions regulator itself is being investigated by a Parliamentary committee for its handling of whistleblowing from a USS trustee
Our pension scheme is under unnecessary threat.
The 2018 pension strikes successfully challenged concerted efforts to fundamentally undermine our healthy defined benefit pension scheme and transfer it into a substandard defined contribution scheme. Our actions changed the debate, and the report of the Joint Expert Panel (JEP) vindicated UCU’s position.
UCU and the employers’ body UUK signed up to the JEP’s recommendations. This was a positive route forwards and out of dispute. Since then, the USS executive has put forward three ‘options’ to proceed, all of which fall short of the JEP recommendations and all of which would cost members more to get less in their retirement (see our recent [newsletter]).
USS has also been caught out misrepresenting the Pension Regulator’s position and neglecting to correct it while a consultation on these substandard options was being presented to employers. The employers’ body UUK will soon decide which option (if at all) it formally supports. All indications so far are such that UCU sadly expects our employers to side with USS, and to shrink from its commitment to the first JEP report, while asking us to wait for the outcome of the second.
A Parliamentary Committee is currently investigating the Pensions Regulator for its handling of recent whistleblowing from a USS trustee, who revealed that USS misled employers and members about the 2018 valuation. See [here] and [here]. The USS executive (in which UCU has formally lost all confidence) wrongly claimed that The Pensions Regulator had said the JEP recommendations would be too risky and failed to correct this position when requested to do so. See this [Financial Times] article for more (Leeds staff can log in to read FT articles using leeds.ac.uk email addresses).
We have seen public commentary shift from the employers’ side, as attempts have begun to portray UCU as ‘unreasonable’. A recent comment piece by Adam Tickell (chair of the Employers Pension Forum, EPF) does just this. More of these types of media piece are sadly expected. When you see them, please remind yourselves that the report of the Joint Expert Panel vindicated UCU’s position and both UCU and UUK signed up to it. To now shore up the position taken by a USS executive that has been caught out for misrepresentation and in which UCU has lost all confidence, is very disappointing to see from our employers.
For a bit more background, I heartily recommend watching my USS negotiator Sam Marsh’s latest video here, [The State of USS].
In a situation when USS and the Pensions Regulator are both under investigation, it is a tough task to portray us – union members – as being ‘unreasonable’. But this seems to be the tack the employers are trying. This is unfair, it is unnecessary and it risks damaging all of our futures.