HE Special Sector Conference – USS motions to be debated

We as a Branch are fully engaged with this special sector conference which has now been called for 24 Feb.  3 delegates are being sent to represent branch views and vote on the proposed motions below.  We believe that motions 2 to 5 are in broad agreement with the sentiment expressed in branch meetings.

Motion 1: Restarting the USS dispute (USS branches)

Conference notes the e-ballot result with a majority to accept the USS offer.

Conference believes:

  • The proposals from USS did not represent an improvement on the original changes to pensions.
  • The accompanying statement to the e-ballot on USS changes was highly misleading and mis-represented the alternative to  accepting the proposals on pensions by failing to set out a credible strategy for industrial action.

Conference instructs HEC to declare a dispute over USS and ballot members for industrial action with

  1. A recommendation for a yes vote
  2. A sufficiently long ballot period
  3. Materials explaining that it is still possible to win significant improvements to pensions and setting out a credible strategy for doing this.

[112 words]

Motion 2: Challenging the deficit (USS branches)

Conference notes the USS ‘deficit’ has been created by a particular interpretation of the value of the assets of the pension scheme and the returns on those assets. This methodology, known as ‘gilts plus’ artificially created a deficit. The consequence of this deficit is then compounded by the belief that the USS pension scheme is not a multi-employer scheme and the de-risking strategy of a movement of assets into government bonds.

Conference believes this methodological approach will create the conditions for a further deficit and further attacks on our pensions in USS and also in the Teachers’ Pension schemes.

Conference rejects the ‘gilt plus’ methodology used by USS and believes pensions are affordable and agrees to launch a campaign to defend all pensions in HE.

[125 words]

Motion 3: Insisting on a combined “ASOS+strike” industrial strategy 

Conference recognises that members do not have confidence in the industrial action strategy pursued by the national union because the majority of the HEC has failed to provide a means by which ASOS would be combined with national strike action.

Conference also recognises that the failure to challenge institution’s decisions to impose punitive pay-docking with national strike action has undermined a belief in ASOS amongst members.

Conference reaffirms the strategy adopted by UCU Congress linking ASOS with escalating strike action rather than counterposing one to the other.

Conference commits to develop a timetable for industrial action which, combined with a mapping of institutions own key timetable, ensures our industrial action is undertaken at a time when it will have the greatest impact.

[122 words]

Motion 4: Conduct of negotiators and HEC (USS branches)

Conference believes the UCU negotiators failed to follow a democratically determined strategy for negotiations on pensions. UCU has never accepted a defined contribution pension scheme and its secret negotiation was outwith the remit of the negotiators. Conference therefore no longer has confidence in our negotiators and calls on them to resign.

Conference further has no confidence in the HEC, which supported this failure in union democracy.

[66 words]

Motion 5: Union democracy 

Conference reaffirms its belief in UCU as a member-led union. Central to this view is a commitment to democratic decision-making, accountability and transparency.

Conference believes that any suggestion of undemocratic processes undermines and damages the union’s credibility with its members.

Conference instructs the chair of HEC to provide information on request about the numbers and names of branches that have submitted quorate motions calling for a special sector conference to the secretaries of HE branches and members of HEC.

Conference recognises the value of regular member-involvement in the conduct of dispute.  Conference instructs HEC to organise regular delegate-based decision-making meetings (special sector conferences) during any national HE dispute to debate the strategy and tactics of that dispute.

[117 words]