This petition is the result of a unanimous decision taken at a Leeds UCU General Meeting on 15th March 2018. Everyone is welcome to sign, whether a member of UCU or not, e.g. staff, students, alumni, prospective students, parents and other members of civil society.
We the undersigned ask the Vice Chancellor, Alan Langlands, to commit to the following:
- To argue for the need for a fair and just defined benefit pension scheme for all University of Leeds staff currently in the USS scheme. 1
- To write to UUK stating that Leeds now supports the retention of a defined benefit USS scheme, is willing to pay higher employer contributions and supports a rethink of the recent USS valuation. 1
- To write to UUK and USS to demand a fully independent review of the valuation methodology applied to assessments of the USS scheme (as supported for example by Vice Chancellors of Sheffield and Kent) and to call on the Pensions Regulator to reassess its restrictions on “acceptable methodology” in light of this. 1
- To work with Leeds UCU in order to pressure UUK and USS to retain our defined benefits pension scheme noting that the VC is on the UUK Board and therefore has influence on UUK.1
- To facilitate UCU in writing to all members of the USS pension scheme to explain its position (as the trade union with recognised bargaining rights over this pension scheme).
- To ensure employer and employee pension contributions are maintained for all staff during strikes and action short of a strike. An HR email on 15th February stated this would be done for staff declaring in advance that they intended to strike. UCU members were not obliged to declare strike action in advance. Any missed contributions must now be reinstated.
- To act urgently, with a university wide approach, to remove the threat of deducting wages from members undertaking action short of a strike, including refusing to reschedule withdrawn teaching or to cover for absent colleagues. 2 In so doing, the Vice Chancellor agrees to recognise our democratic right to withdraw labour.
- To assure staff they will not be asked to reschedule teaching related activity on return to work.
- To guarantee protections for international staff who have participated in strike action, in recognition of the fact that our colleagues on tier 2 and 5 visas are subject to immigration controls that could affect their right to reside.
- To deduct no pay from any staff taking strike action because of the lack of due diligence in accepting a faulty valuation of our pensions in the first place, noting again that the VC is on the Board of UUK.
- If deductions for industrial action are applied, deductions should be spread over a number of months to mitigate any financial hardship on staff. 3
- Where deductions for industrial action are applied, the docked wages should be paid into relevant hardship funds and used to augment mental health and counselling provision for students. 4
- To ensure full transparency around the decision-making process that led to the University of Leeds response to the UUK survey in September 2017, noting that several universities have already acknowledged that their own institutional procedures were not adequately followed. 5
- To ensuring full transparency and disclosure around any future decisions about changes to our pay and pensions.
- To ensure no repercussions for students who have observed their conscience and political rights by refusing to cross a picket line. This includes ensuring that international students or home students who refused to cross a picket line do not receive absence marks or attendance warnings, which could imperil their visa / immigration status.
Open Letter on USS pensions to University of Leeds VCRead the Petition
- This note covers point 1-3. Retention of DB and a fresh look at valuation was called for by: University of Bristol https://www.bristol.ac.uk/university/media/pensions/uuk-letter.pdf; University of Kent (in joint letter with Kent UCU) https://www.kent.ac.uk/news/kentlife/17335/joint-statement-between-university-of-kent-ucu-university-of-kent-branch-and-kent-union; and retaining an element of DB was agreed by University of Cambridge: http://www.cam.ac.uk/news/statement-from-the-vice-chancellor-on-industrial-action; University of Glasgow https://www.timeshighereducation.com/news/union-tables-new-proposals-bid-resolve-pensions-dispute; University of Warwick https://warwick.ac.uk/services/vco/blog/; University of Keele https://blogs.keele.ac.uk/industrial-action-where-are-we-now-a1162d684ccc.
- University of Sheffield backed down on this and won’t be deducting pay from staff not rescheduling lectures: https://twitter.com/sheffielduni/status/969305058927144960; as did University of Keele https://blogs.keele.ac.uk/industrial-action-where-are-we-now-a1162d684ccc; and University of Bristol https://www.bristol247.com/news-and-features/news/students-occupying-senate-house-leave-bristol-university-responds-demands/; and St. Andrews (who started by saying they’d deduct 100%) https://twitter.com/ucustandrews/status/970613152202330112.
- Spreading of deductions has been done at University of Glasgow, and was covered in an article in The Times: https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/university-strikers-can-spread-cost-of-docked-pay-8rf6rr2lv; as have University of Bristol, following a student occupation https://www.bristol247.com/news-and-features/news/students-occupying-senate-house-leave-bristol-university-responds-demands/.
- University of Southampton is putting the money into student bursaries https://www.southampton.ac.uk/blog/sussed-news/2018/03/06/06-03-2018-update-from-the-vc-to-all-staff-and-students/; and University of Bristol agreed to give it to student hardship fund https://www.bristol247.com/news-and-features/news/students-occupying-senate-house-leave-bristol-university-responds-demands/.
- This has been mostly acknowledged by Oxbridge colleges (which was important because of their over representation in UUK’s survey): Athene Donald, Master of Churchill College Cambridge, letter to Alistair Jarvis is good on this https://www.chu.cam.ac.uk/news/2018/mar/9/letter-master-athene-donald-alistair-jarvis-uuk/; Kings College Cambridge http://www.kings.cam.ac.uk/news/2018/statement-provost-regarding-college-responses-uukuss-pensions-survey; St Catherine’s College Cambridge https://www.caths.cam.ac.uk/about-us/news-and-events/statement-%E2%80%93-proposed-uss-pension-changes. Imperial College London also requested transparency from UUK and USS on “assumptions, data and modelling approach that has been used”: https://www.timeshighereducation.com/news/union-tables-new-proposals-bid-resolve-pensions-dispute.
Signatures so far:
|1,262||Alison Hume||Hourly paid academic|
|1,260||Beth Stratford||PhD student|
|1,247||Hannah McGurk||Masters student|
|1,242||James Brooks||Alumni (PhD 2017)|
|1,235||Siggy Frank||external examiner for Russian Studies at Leeds (resigned)|
|1,234||Rachel Crossdale||Postgraduate Student|
|1,233||Man Ting Yu||student|
|1,230||Lisa Beare||Staff and alumna|
|1,222||Theodore Harding||Student alumni|
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This page was last updated on 22 March 2018