We reject this proposal because
1) it does not go nearly far enough to meet our demands and
2) we are in an excellent position to continue to pressure employers and to get what we want.
We strongly welcome the large and dynamic members’ meetings that have met to debate the proposal. These have seen a growing tide of opinion in favour of a no vote, with branches such as Kent, Salford and Sheffield already resoundingly voting to recommend a no vote. We urge all branches to follow their example and hold branch meetings at the earliest opportunity.
We welcome the expert panel in the UUK proposal – it is critical that the valuation is seriously challenged. But we reject the framing of the terms of the panel within the existing constraints of “risk”, “affordability” and the “current regulations”. A revaluation within these constraints may lead to improvements, but excessive prudence or a regulatory approach that was not designed for a gigantic sectoral scheme could still lead to the artificial creation of a deficit,
The commitment of UUK to DB is too vague and too weak. There is no commitment to anything approaching the status quo. It is not even definite that it will give us more for the current valuation than the 12th March offer members resoundingly rejected. All the employers are really committed to is paying our current benefits until April 2019. But even the employers’ original, and much-lambasted, 100% DC proposal promised this much.
There is no mention of protection from victimisation for striking members, nor a commitment not to deduct from staff on casualised contracts.
Even the timing is vague. There are no deadlines in the proposal, so we could get the Valuation Panel report at a time in the academic year that makes it harder to ballot and take industrial action if we need to.
This is not what we stood on picket lines for, for 14 days in the cold, rain and snow. It’s not what thousands of members joined the union for.
We are in a good position to take action and force UUK back to negotiate for more. The employers are terrified by the 14 days of industrial action we have planned, because the action is timed to maximise disruption to marking and Exam Board preparation. They are desperate to avoid the resulting chaos, complaints and demands from students. While veiled threats from the Chinese Embassy, and the potential loss of millions in revenue from international students, has them very worried. We will not easily be in this good a position again.
That is why we voted against the move to ballot at HEC and will be voting No.
It is also why we will continue working with members to turn what has been the most impressive industrial action our union has undertaken into its most successful.
UCU Left HEC members (pre-92)