It is Monday evening after Day 10 of our strike. UCU Left HEC members are quite rightly being bombarded with texts, emails and tweets calling for #NoCapitulation.
UCU has two tasks: to kill off 100% Defined Contribution (DC) and fight for more.
We have come to a crunch point in the USS dispute.
What is on the table
This offer is an improvement on 100% Defined Contribution. Therefore if the USS JNC votes to take DC off the table and replace it with a shoddy compromise, that is an important step forward.
By all means, let’s get rid of DC. UCU reps should vote with UUK in the JNC machinery to kill off the existing 100% DC imposed proposal.
So that’s step 1.
But scrapping 100% DC is not enough
First of all, just taking into account the accrual rate and contribution increase, this offer is a swingeing cut. It is at least a 19% cut in pension value. That is before you think about the effect of CPI capping and lowering the threshold.
- It is a three-year deal at most. The employers will come back for more in three years’ time.
- Don’t trust an “expert’s group” to solve the problem. Whoever picks the experts picks the outcome.
Our negotiators had a gun pointed at their heads. A gun of “accept this or get DC”. A compromise was born. It doesn’t necessarily mean negotiators are selling out. This compromise is what happens when you work within the projected deficit and face the threat of 100% DC.
But ordinary members are not prisoners of the negotiation process.
We have to keep up the fight
That’s step 2.
Therefore, at Tuesday’s meeting, it is essential HEC and delegates vote against suspending the action on the basis of the offer. We have to show to the entire sector and the public that the fight is not over. Our own members expect this as an absolute minimum.
We should therefore take the action we have already called and keep our strikes on this week.
We should also argue for a NO vote.
HEC can’t vote to end the dispute, but it could agree to send it out to members in an e-ballot.
At the delegate meeting, we should vote no to putting it out to members by e-ballot. But if it is put out to members by e-ballot, we have to argue for voting no in our branches.
This means challenging the deficit that generates the cut.
What is our alternative?
The most straightforward position is to demand no change from the current scheme (status quo) and call for a government guarantee to underwrite the pension scheme. This is straightforward, logical, and easy to understand.
This is also a realistic prospect, provided that we unite around this demand.
Members have been out in the snow and rain. A new union has been born. We are in a stronger position than ever before.
We have to use the last few days of strikes to assemble around the demand for #NoCapitulation #NoDeficit.
For everyone in London – come on Wednesday’s demonstration from Malet Street to Parliament Square. Assembles at 12 Noon. Rally in Westminster Central Hall.
Let’s debate where we are and what we do next!