QMUCU Branch Motions on Four Fights and USS Disputes

At the online emergency branch meeting today, the branch passed, with none against, the following two motions. The first affirms the branch’s position on our pensions, where we have considerable, but not complete, common ground with the employers’ position. The second rejects the employers offer on the pay round negotiations (four fights dispute).

USS Motion

The Queen Mary University of London branch of the University and College Union (QMUCU) notes that,

Progress was made in negotiations over the University Superannuation Scheme (USS) dispute as a consequence of our recent strike action. Our employers now agree that the scheme should contain:

  1. No de-risking unless properly evidenced and justified
  2. The abandonment of Test 1
  3. Greater transparency

Such agreement would reduce risks and costs in the Scheme and make it more sustainable.

QMUCU further notes that,

  1. The above gains could easily be withdrawn
  2. Our employers are responsible for the methodology that led to higher pension contributions, but continue to impose the costs of their own decisions on employees
  3. Notwithstanding the above, the basis to the dispute remains unchanged and it remains live.

QMUCU therefore agrees that:

  1. There should be no detriment to members’ benefits.
  2. The views of branches should be taken into account before deciding on a date to commence a new industrial action ballot.

Four Fights Motion

The Queen Mary University of London branch of the University and College Union (QMUCU) notes that,

  1. Union members across the country have engaged in the most sustained industrial action in decades in order to enhance equality and fairness at our public universities.
  2. Progress has been made in the disputes, but the ‘final’ offer from UCEA is too little to redress the critical issues of pay inequality, precarious work, workload and real pay decline.
  3. Since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic university senior management, at Queen Mary and across the sector, has failed to engage with unions in ways that ensure good decision-making. 

This branch believes that,

  1. The employers’ proposals do not contain sufficiently binding commitments to redressing any, let alone all, of these pressing issues nationally.
  2. Accepting an offer that does not give sufficient guarantees to women members on the gender pay gap, BAME members on the race pay gap and to our casualised staff.
  3. The coronavirus pandemic has made a binding resolution to the four fights increasingly urgent to protect jobs and ensure the fair and equitable treatment of all staff.
  4.  The lack of a pay offer shows contempt towards academic staff and the lack of binding agreement compounds the lack of real, material commitment to change.
  5. That the restitution of docked pay is not part of any agreement to conclude the dispute is itself sufficient reason to reject the offer.
  6. Queen Mary senior management has failed to engage meaningfully with unions to address these issues locally in ways that we could rely on.

This branch therefore recommends that,

  1. The employers’ offer on the four fights is rejected.
  2. HEC revisits both the 4 fights and USS disputes in the autumn, ideally through special sector conferences to think more creatively about how we convince management, government and the public of the legitimacy and importance of the fights.
  3. The General Secretary holds immediately a national meeting for members and representatives along the lines of the recent, highly successful mass meetings by the National Educators Union.
  4. HEC to immediately hold a national meeting and launch a national campaign in response to the mass redundancies threatened by university management. Such a campaign should have input from casualised members and can draw from the NEU’s online mass meetings to build organisation and collectively identify points of leverage. Such campaigning can form the basis for organising for a successful round of reballots for industrial action in the autumn term.
  5. Senior management at Queen Mary shows moral leadership and lobbies the employers’ representatives to accept meaningful and binding national commitments on the four issues.
  6. Senior management at Queen Mary works constructively with unions locally to be a beacon employer on the non-pay issues.

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