There will be an Emergency General Meeting (EGM) next Wednesday, Feb 13th, 12:30-1:30, in the Chemistry Building Room G54, to update members on the current pay ballot and USS negotiations.
The ballot on industrial action over pay and equality ends on February 22nd which means we have just two weeks left to Get The Vote Out and ensure the turnout is over 50%.
Regarding USS, the news is not good. As you know, the Joint Expert Panel (JEP) set up by UCU and UUK completely vindicated our strikes last year and the criticisms very many people, not just UCU, have leveled against the flawed valuation approach adopted by the USS. The JEP panelists came to the unanimous conclusion that current benefits could be maintained with manageable increases in contributions of 1.1% by members and 2.1% by employers – a judgement that has now been endorsed not just by First Actuarial, UCU’s advisors, but also by UUK’s actuarial advisors, Aon.
It is also quite clear that in the recent UUK consultation the majority if not all pre-92 universities have also come down on the side of implementing the JEP recommendations. Even the University of Manchester, which up till now has always been one of the most hardline employers, is now taking this view as can be seen from its submission posted on Staffnet on Jan 25th
However, despite this widespread support for a sensible settlement, it looks like the dispute may be about to flare up again because of the intransigence of the USS Chief Executive, Bill Galvin, and actuary, Mercers, who are (stupidly in our view) refuting the wealth of expert opinion and resisting implementation of the JEP proposals in what looks like a desperate attempt to salvage their professional reputations in the face of myriad criticisms.
If Bill Galvin gets his way, the current USS member contributions of 8% for members and 18% for employers would have to increase to as much as 11.7% for members and 24.9% for employers in April 2020, or benefits (i.e. pensions) will have to be reduced. This would wreck the USS pension scheme.
We are astonished to learn that the final guidance on the REF 2021 permits the submission of outputs of former staff made redundant! This is cynical and outrageous. UCU nationally is opposed to the new proposal and has written to higher education institutions calling for them to rule out implementing this proposal in their REF code of practice. We expect the University of Manchester to agree with this but if anyone knows of a department intending to submit REF outputs for staff who have been made redundant, please let the UMUCU office know.