A decision by the HEC to suspend of the current industrial action over the USS pension scheme would be wrong on every front.
The counter-proposals offered by the negotiators effectively give the employers much of what they want: a moveable threshold for capping defined benefits; the end of the final salary pension and final salary benefits accrued so far to be reduced over time by an index below RPI. They accept, both in principle and in effect, the gender inequalities represented by this shift to a Career Average Scheme.
Although there are promises of “tripartite” actuarial meetings, the employers have not offered to take their deficit-doubling ‘de-risking’ scheme off the table. Their projected deficit remains at £13bn. It follows that any negotiated settlement will be at members’ expense.
Yet the advantage is now in the UCU’s hands, with the employers in disarray as institutions break ranks over the employer proposals for USS as well as wildly different responses to ASOS with some Universities such as Liverpool, Salford, Bradford and others docking at 100% and some such as SOAS not docking pay at all.
The anger of members over their pensions is now turning into action, with UCU members at the Universities of Liverpool, Bradford, Salford, Cardiff and UCL voting to strike until pay docking is withdrawn.
A suspension of the action now means throwing away this advantage and allowing the employers time to recover their position.
Our General Secretary, negotiators and Higher Education Committee need to listen to UCU members in the branches.
Join a respectful lobby of the UCU HEC meeting on Wednesday 19 November, 1pm at UCU HQ, Carlow Street, London NW1 7LH. Urge HEC NOT to suspend the action but to urgently call a special Higher Education Sector Conference of branch delegates to determine the direction of this dispute.
NOW IS THE TIME TO FIGHT. PRESS ON WITH THE ACTION.
Lesley McGorrigan, University of Leeds, HEC
Andreas Bieler, University of Nottingham, HEC
Jo McNeill, University of Liverpool, HEC
Paul Blackledge, Leeds Beckett University, HEC
Sean Wallis, University College London, HEC
Saira Weiner, Liverpool John Moores University, HEC
Ioanna Ioannou, University College London, HEC
Karen Evans, University of Liverpool, HEC
Marion Hersh, University of Glasgow, HEC, USS Joint Negotiating Committee
Lesley Kane, The Open University, HEC
Trish McManus, University of Brighton, HEC
Mark O’Brien, University of Liverpool