The TPS situation – Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is available online here, along with a model motion in support of the NEC, and a number of other useful resources about the TPS dispute.

FAQ 1. Why did National Executive members reject the Heads of Agreement government proposals?

  • There is very little extra on offer compared to pre-November 30
  • The proposals dump our current Final Salary scheme in favour of a Career Average Revaluation Earnings scheme
  • The minor improvement in the accrual rate and transfer rate would still leave the vast majority of non-protected members worse off and having to work longer to get the same pension (up to age 68 for many)
  • The proposals offer minimal reductions to the financial penalties for retirement earlier  than the State Retirement Age, which the government is increasing
  • The sliding scale of pension contributions increases from 1st April refer ONLY to the first year of three years of increases –  a pay CUT – which will hit the vast majority of TPS members in a few weeks’ time. The average increase after three years will be 50%
  • The proposals say nothing about the shift from RPI to CPI indexation of pensions in payment, which will lead to the progressive reduction in pension payments costing retired members many thousands of pounds.

In short, the HoA proposals will still leave members paying more, working longer, getting less.

FAQ 2. How will the government proposals affect me?

To see how these proposals will affect you go to UCU’s pension calculator.  It only takes a few minutes and will tell you exactly how much you will be losing.  Click here if you joined the scheme before 2007 and here if you joined the scheme after 2007

FAQ  3. On January 20th, the NEC voted to take further industrial action on March 1st. Does this mean we will be fighting alone?

No. A number of unions such as NUT, NASUWT, PCS, UCAC, Nipsa and Unite in Health and the Civil Service have not signed up to the December19th proposals. There are growing efforts by many members in the unions whose leaderships have signed up to overturn those decisions. The British Medical Association has also recently voted not to accept the pension proposals.

However, because none of these unions had named a day before UCU’s National Executive meeting on 20th January your Executive decided to get the ball rolling by naming a strike day and asking the other unions to join us.

Since our decision to propose a named strike day the NUT Executive has met and called for further strike action in March. The NUT thought that our proposal of March 1st was too soon and therefore is organising another meeting with all those unions that have not signed up to the deal to agree a day. Other unions are now moving in the same direction; last Saturday the EIS Council (Education Institute of Scotland) unanimously decided to join UCU and NUT in seeking further nationally coordinated strike action.  The NASUWT also are making positive noises about further action. See here.

Discussions are continuing between various unions about the best day for united strike action and about further action. Click here for TES article

FAQ 4. When will this date be decided?

At the last NEC, where the motion was passed to name a day for the next round of action, the NEC also agreed to call another special NEC on the 10th February to review progress and to gauge the response to our decision.  That week other NECs meet to discuss the same issue. So hopefully a final decision could be made at this meeting.

FAQ 5. Are there any other plans for further action beyond a day in March?

Yes. The NEC passed a motion unanimously before Xmas to put some proposals to the other unions. The motion stated that UCU should propose a programme of rolling action across the country creating a ‘Mexican wave effect’ followed by further nationally coordinated strike action.

Rolling strike action is where one region comes out on one day then another and another and so on. For example all schools, colleges and universities come out together in London on one day followed by the North West, then the North East etc.

FAQ 6. Will we be balloted on the final offer?

Yes. At the last NEC the motion passed said this,

“While agreeing that there should be a ballot on any genuine ‘final’ offer the NEC believes there has been no significant improvement at this point (see FAQ 1 for reasons). We further believe that any formal ballot should only be conducted in conjunction with our sister unions (a position supported by our last NEC).”

Whatever genuine final offer the union gets will be put to a full membership ballot alongside our sister TPS unions, as promised and as required as part of union democracy. We balloted to decide whether we would go into dispute, as legally required, and we should ballot to decide whether to end the dispute.

However, just because an employer or the government says that an offer is ‘final’ doesn’t mean we have to believe them! It would be naïve in industrial relations to adopt such a position. Disputes often involve a multitude of ‘final offers’. If the union were to ballot on every offer the employer claims is final we would be (a) constantly delayed in action and (b) bankrupt quite quickly.

FAQ 7. Are other unions balloting their members on the governments offer?

Only one and that is the ATL who have signed up to the deal. None of the other TPS unions (nor Unite or PCS) is balloting. They have not signed up to the proposals and have been taking membership soundings by various means: branch surveys, reps meetings, limited e-surveys and so on. Here is the link to the NUT survey.

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