An important USS update and survey of members

 Dear colleague,

USS – Survey of members:

I’m emailing to seek the views of UCU members in the USS pension scheme on the next steps in our campaign.
Specifically, you are asked whether you would support an extension of the suspension of industrial action to allow for further negotiations, or whether you would prefer to resume industrial action immediately after June 18.
Your views will be used to inform Congress’s decision in June.
Please read the below explanatory information and then complete the very quick survey at the bottom of this email.
Thank you for taking the time to read this email.

Yours,

Sally Hunt,
UCU General Secretary

Where are we now?

Following a meeting of USS branches on 31 January 2012, the union agreed to suspend our work-to-contract industrial action.

Since February, discussion with the employers has taken place on the key issue of the comparability of the USS schemes with other public sector schemes.

Specifically, as part of our talks we have undertaken an exercise to compare the benefits provided by USS and those proposed in the recent public sector discussions for the Teachers Pension Scheme (TPS).

In overall terms, the exercise confirms that the proposed TPS benefits are higher compared to those provided by USS’s career revalued benefits section which was created for new joiners in October last year, and imposed upon UCU without agreement.

For the majority of members in the USS final salary section, benefits remain higher than those in the new TPS scheme.

It is also important to note that TPS members are paying more in contributions for their benefits than those in the USS career revalued scheme.

Representatives from the employer and UCU sides have agreed to issue the interim report on progress so far on the issues that have arisen from comparison exercise.

These will include:

a) the scope for funding any adjustments in benefits to address the gap between  the schemes, including

b) consideration of the extent to which the USS fund itself can absorb changes without an increase in the employers’ contribution rate;

c) the scope to design an enhanced benefit section of the USS CRB scheme.

The interim report can be found here:
www.ucu.org.uk/circ/rtf/UCUHE154_att1.rtf

The full comparison exercise can be found here:
http://www.ucu.org.uk/circ/pdf/UCUHE154_att2.pdf

Next steps:

Both sides agreed to meet again in October 2012 and to then identify potential options for consultation. Work on the remaining items will continue as scheduled.

Our earlier decision was only to suspend the industrial action until 18 June to enable your negotiators to report on progress to our annual national conference.

The USS Committee believes that limited progress has been made and believes that the negotiating team should continue the talks with the employers while progress is being made.

The alternative is to resume industrial action, both the work to contract and other action including strikes and this will be debated at the Conference. However, it is to be expected that resuming action will lead to the employers walking away from the talks.

Survey – tell us your view:

To help inform conference, we are asking members to let us have your views. Please fill in this very quick survey which asks you one question about what you think should happen next:
https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/ussnextstepssurvey

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