The USS and pay equality disputes are two sides of the same coin

This past Friday, an enormous bombshell dropped, when USS — finally — sent Sam Marsh the final set of data on the Workings of Test 1, which he began asking for over a year ago. With these numbers, Sam has been able to conclusively show that Test 1 is absolutely unfit for purpose and that it can’t be used to justify the de-risking that has pushed up the costs of our benefits. The result may even mean that the scheme is in surplus as of March 2018. Here is Sam’s USSBriefs piece on his findings, as well as a longer summary by Mike Otsuka.

If you’re feeling simultaneously jubilant and infuriated right now, then we are right with you. Even armed with incomplete data, we knew that something wasn’t right back in January when we voted to strike. And every piece of data we’ve got since then has confirmed that it was the negligence of UUK and USS that created the ‘pensions crisis’ and made our strike necessary. The fact that we have had to rely on the investigative journalism of Josephine Cumbo, and the incredible hard work of union members around the country (which they did for free) to uncover this data and reveal this negligence is an absolute scandal.

If it wasn’t for the tireless work of rank and file activists and our strike action in March, we would not be in the position we are now to demand #NoDetriment to our pension scheme.

The same culture of misinformation exists around university finances. Universities are imposing austerity measures on a faculty level, and many departments here at Sheffield have been told to cut as much as 10% of their operating budget, and yet we have just learned that the university banks £3500 per student per year (See here and here). The University tells us it has no money to raise wages, and yet based on publicly available data, we see that the University of Sheffield is actually in a very healthy financial position! Despite this, the proportion of funds spent on staff have dropped, while capital projects have increased, particularly in the past 5 years. Leicester UCU has already found similar patterns in their University’s own finances, and other branches are following suit in investigating the claims their universities are making.

There are things we don’t yet know about pay, because all of the data isn’t available to us (yet). But what we do know doesn’t add up, in the same way the USS ‘deficit’ didn’t.

If there was ever an argument for posting your ballot today it is this: we’ve already seen what happens when we have direct evidence that we are being misled about our finances, we know how to dig deeper to find out more, and we are empowered by standing collectively.

No deficit. No detriment. No pay cuts.

Please vote today.

Sheffield UCU Committee