Pensions Dispute Update

UCU’s national higher education committee (HEC) met yesterday and decided to seek members’ views on new proposals aimed at resolving the current dispute.This will be done via electronic ballot. The current assessment boycott is still suspended until the outcome of this ballot,

The proposals do provide some improvement in accrual rates and an increase in the earnings cap but also include proposed increases in members’ contributions

The ballot will open on 16th January and close on 26th January at noon. ERS will deliver the emails on a staggered basis over the first couple of days of the ballot so they will arrive at different times for each member. Anyone who has not received an email from ERS inviting them to vote by close of play on 20th January should contact Matt Waddup (mwaddup@ucu.org.uk) to arrange for a replacement ballot code to be sent. There are a very small number of members in this ballot for whom the union does not currently hold a valid email address. These members will be sent a postal ballot paper by ERS.

If a majority of members vote yes to accept the proposals, the union will end the dispute.

If a majority of members vote no, the current boycott of student assessment will continue until such time as there is an improved offer. In the event that institutions then implement punitive deductions from members’ salaries the union will call further industrial action up to indefinite strike action

UCU national have given the following view:

“UCU has worked hard to persuade the employers to negotiate properly, and this final position does represent considerable improvement on the opening proposals. The shift in the earnings threshold from £40 to £55k and the improvement of the accrual rate from 1/80th to 1/75th are the two main changes. It should also be noted that the positive accrual rate change represents an improvement on current terms for new entrants to the scheme. The package still includes a defined contribution scheme above the £55,000 cap.
However, it is important to be clear that even under these final proposals many members will still see their estimated annual pension income fall (albeit by less than under the original proposals) and all members will see their pension contributions rise by between 0.5 and 1.5%. There will be the option for members to make an additional contribution of 1% to the defined contribution which will be matched by the employers.
The employers do consider this to be as far as they are prepared to go. If these proposals are not accepted, the employers have stated that they will revert to their preferred option of a 1/80th accrual rate.
Given the constraints imposed by the funding environment, the higher education committee believes that this is the best that can be achieved through negotiation. Further improvement is therefore unlikely without sustained industrial action by members targeted against student assessment.
HEC believes that at this point it is important for members to have a say on the next steps.”