You can download a PDF of the statement from University of Leeds UCU regarding the UUK-UCU statement following ACAS talks (13/3/18) here: members_statement_re_12_march_agreement
Text of statement:
Statement from Leeds UCU branch regarding the UUK-UCU statement following ACAS talks
13 March 2018
The last three weeks have seen the biggest strike in the history of the sector. We are growing in size, support, and momentum. We regret the impact of this dispute on our students, and are committed to our students’ education. We have the support of our students, the media, the public, and even some vice chancellors. We should build on this to secure a fair deal.
We want to express how appreciative we are of casualised members, who, despite often being in the most insecure position, have been central to the action.
Meanwhile, we are deeply disappointed about the processes which UUK have used to try to bring about such devastating changes to USS members’ pensions.
This Leeds UCU members’ meeting believes that the agreement reached between UUK and UCU negotiators falls a long way short of what members want and deserve.
- The agreement fails to secure a long-term, sustainable future for defined benefits: it commits to a three-year ‘transitional arrangement’ after which the employers will be free, once again, to put defined benefits in jeopardy.
- We welcome the recognition that the DB element should be preserved, and that the valuation mechanisms should be made more transparent, and suitable to the distinctive structure of USS. But we call upon the interested parties to maintain the current pension arrangement while the valuation is reconsidered. The UUK-UCU proposal promises an accrual rate, indexation, and a salary threshold for defined benefits that may leave members no better off than the current defined contribution proposal.
- The agreement involves increased staff contributions despite serious questions about the way the USS deficit has been calculated.
- Under the agreement, UCU is expected to encourage members to reschedule teaching lost. However, this precedent limits the capacity of the Union to take effective industrial action in future. It also leaves members vulnerable to management pressure to take on excessive workload. We have already had pay deducted for strike days. This concern is especially important because some institutions have threatened to deduct further pay if teaching is not rescheduled, a punitive approach unpredecented in most USS universities. Moreover, such rescheduling is in many cases impractical and as such of questionable pedagogical value.
- We welcome the agreement encouraging UUK to minimise the impact of the industrial action on graduate teaching assistants. However, the agreement does not provide sufficient guarantees for vulnerable members, including lower paid, casualised, and international staff. We note that those hardest hit by the proposed changes are young staff who have already been hit hard by past pension scheme changes and large student loans.
Leeds UCU is proud of how well we have done in the strike, the membership we have gained, and the momentum we have created. We have the strength to win a fair deal.
This page was last updated on 22 March 2018