QMUCU recommend REJECTING the current offer in the USS Pensions dispute.  Full statement below.

Branch meeting to discuss the dispute – Thursday 22nd January 1pm (Room TBC).

Dear Member,

You should now have received notice of both the decision by HEC to not re-commence the marking boycott today, as well as the decision to put to the revised proposals for the future of USS resultant from the negotiations between UUK and UCU negotiators to a national ballot of members. Today, you should also have received an email from the Electoral Reform Services allowing you to vote on the proposals.

Your branch committee has examined the changes to the employers’ proposals and is strongly recommending that Queen Mary UCU members REJECT the current offer.

We acknowledge there are some very minor improvements on the original proposal, in particular:

– A reduction in the accrual rate from 1/80 to 1/75 of salary for every year of service.

– A modest increase in the ‘cap’ – the point at which your pension moves from defined benefits (DB) to defined contribution (DC) – from £50k to £55k.

You can check your pension situation using the pensions modeller here: http://defenduss.web.ucu.org.uk/whats-my-pension/

For further details see also http://defenduss.web.ucu.org.uk/

However, we remain concerned that:

– The current final salary will be terminated and that members in mid-career could lose over 10%, despite paying more in contributions.

– New staff in the Career Re-evaluated Benefits Scheme would make some small gains but at the cost of even more contributions.

– A Defined Contribution scheme would be created alongside the DB scheme. DC schemes transfer all risk to members and provides no guaranteed sum on retirement. Under the current proposals, employers will have a built-in incentive to shift as much of the pension scheme as possible into the DC section. This is a major risk in accepting the proposals on offer.

– The proposals would ensure that USS would provide benefits that are still worse than those provided by the Teachers Pension Scheme.

– Some employers have indicated that they want to have more control over the DC scheme, suggesting that that part of USS at least would cease to be national.

– Finally, as our branch motion of November 12, 2014 (passed nem con) made clear, we remain particularly disturbed that the recent negotiations and the UCU negotiating position has, in effect, been based on the incorrect assumption that USS faces a serious deficit, despite the fact that the projected deficit is based on a valuation of USS assets that has been thoroughly discredited, not least by some of the employers themselves.

For these reasons we urge you to REJECT the proposals and send a clear message to the union negotiators and the employers that we are willing to take further action to defend our pensions.

There will be a branch meeting to discuss the USS situation and the ballot on THURSDAY January 22, 1pm (room tbc).

In solidarity,

Queen Mary, UCU Committee

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