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Pension update 16.11.14

Talks on Thursday produced a joint statement from UCU and UUK negotiators.


UCU Higher Education Committee will vote on whether to accept the statement proposals on Wednesday 19th.

If accepted, the boycott would be suspended and no pay deductions would be made for action taken.  A number of negotiating meetings both formal and informal would be held between now and January and actuaries from USS, UUK and UCU would meet to discuss the valuation criteria.


At UEA we had scheduled an extraordinary general meeting on Wednesday 19th to debate a motion considering a move to strike action as a result of UEA’s 100% pay deduction.  This meeting will still take place, and the boycott remains in place until Wednesday.



Defend USS pensions

Tuesday 4th November UEA staff were told that the university will deduct 100% pay from anyone participating in the Marking boycott.


UCU Acting President Amanda Williams & the local committee sent the following open letter:

Open letter to the VC from UCU local branch committee


Dear Professor Richardson


I have today learnt that UEA intends to deduct 100% pay from staff taking part in industrial action.  As you know colleagues who are members of the University and College Union (UCU) were recently balloted over strike action and action short of a strike, and on the basis of that democratic mandate UCU has asked its members to support a marking boycott starting on 6 November.


I am disappointed by the unnecessarily adversarial attitude adopted by the Executive Team at UEA.  All staff taking part in the marking boycott are doing so reluctantly, but we believe there is little else we can do to protect not just our own pensions, but those of our future colleagues.


While we are involved in the marking boycott we will, nonetheless, be diligently undertaking the rest of our professional duties.  This is despite the fact that the university intends to withhold our full salaries.  The university is acting disproportionately.


The proposals from the employers are eroding the implicit covenant between universities and their staff by undermining the principle that USS is a defined benefit scheme.  In the private sector defined contribution schemes are common; however having recently moved from employment at a for-profit HEI I can personally testify that in the commercial sector the provision of less valuable pension schemes is compensated by substantially larger salaries.


As I am sure you are aware academics from a number of universities have challenged the assumptions on which the pension deficit, the burning bridge being used to attempt to push through these proposals, has been calculated.


Warwick, Essex and Cambridge Universities have all broken ranks to criticise UUK.  The universities in UUK are therefore by no means unanimous in either accepting the need for the pension scheme to change nor in the way in which they are responding to industrial action at a local level.


One reason often given to justify a hard line in industrial disputes is that universities need to be more business-like.  This might have been true in the 1970’s however modern businesses know that the goodwill of their workforce is not something to be frittered.  The unprecedented threat to our remuneration and the aggressive stance being adopted towards those demonstrating against that threat has undermined the morale of many staff, irrespective of whether they are members of the union or not.


I am bewildered by the attitude of the university.  I might be able to understand this confrontational approach from organisations that exist solely for the economic benefit of their shareholders, but I find it hard to understand it in an organisation whose purpose is not primarily economic.  We should be on the same side, working to protect Higher Education in the UK.


I write in hope that the university will change its stance and start to adopt a more enlightened approach.



Pensions briefings

The future shape of the USS pension scheme is under negotation at present.

There will be a general meeting for UCU@UEA members in SEPTEMBER 2014

A useful briefing paper and updates are available on the UCU website

joint union action 31st 0ctober 2013

UEA members of UCU, Unite and Unison came together in joint strike action calling for an increase to the pay offer of 1%.

strikephotoAt a time when Unison have identified that over 4000 staff employed in HE earn less than the living wage, & when an Associate Tutor at UEA regretfully didn’t miss his teaching ‘because if I don’t do the 2 hours I won’t eat this week’  the employers group UCEA said that ‘the vast majority of staff think this is a fair offer’.   And meanwhile Vice-Chancellors’ pay for the most part has continued to rise




Get climate change back IN the curriculum!

Michael Gove, Secretary of State for Education, has proposed that climate change be removed from the national curriculum. This should not be allowed to happen.  Nobody should leave school without some basic knowledge of the anthropogenic causes of climate change and its likely irreversible consequences for human beings and the whole planet.

This issue is of relevance to higher education for two reasons.  Firstly, such an understanding is necessary for the proper study of many subjects at university, and secondly, future teachers receive their professional education in universities.

On Tuesday, April 16th People & Planet submitted their formal curriculum consultation response with a focus on the geography curriculum and the citizenship curriculum, urging for key issues and concepts such as climate change, sustainability and active global citizenship to be retained. UCU, NUS, PCS, UNISON and TSSA all also signed this:

Please read it to find out more information on the campaign.  It is not too late to join in.  If you click on the link you will find the template of a letter to Mr Gove.  Please consider writing to him.

For more information about UCU’s work on the environment and climate change, see: