Branch updates

News in brief from SUCU Committee.

SUCU Branch News 2 Oct 2014

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USS ballot - use your vote to defend your pension

Use your vote, speak to your colleagues and email this flyer that provides more information.    You will have seen recent briefings about the USS ballot that starts today and closes on 20th October.  Your paper ballot form will arrive during the next few days.  The proposals will mean lower benefits, less guaranteed income in retirement, and a worse pension than colleagues in the Teachers Pension Scheme.  Remember this is just the start and if they win this then future erosion is very likely.   Its important that we get a good turn out and a strong vote in favour of action on both ASOS and taking strike action.   We have a good case:
  • The huge 'deficit' is artificial - USS is healthy and growing. The USS projections involved are contested by UCU and we believe the employers’ proposals are a deliberate overreaction.  Since 2011, the fund’s investments have grown by £8bn.  Returns on investment have outperformed both average earnings and inflation.    
  • The employers can afford it - Pre-92 institutions are doing well. There is simply no case for the pensions they offer to be inferior to those offered by new universities.
This youtube video produced by Leeds UCU explains the threats and what we can do to stop them. This is a detailed analysis of the effects of the proposals completed  for UCU by First Actuarial.  Press coverage: TelegraphTimes HigherFT. If you want more information about the employers’ proposals please go to our USS blogsite.   Not sure which way to vote?  Hang on to your ballot paper and come to the General Meeting 14th Oct 1pm in the Council Chamber, Octagon Centre.  

General Meeting 14th Oct 1pm in the Council Chamber, Octagon Centre

The focus of this meeting for all members is the current threats to USS and the ballot.  Beverages will be provided from 12.45. A guest speaker is tbc.


Sheffield March and Rally in support of Public Sector strikers Tuesday 14th October

Sheffield Trade Union Council is organising a march and rally in Sheffield in support of the public sector strikes taking place that week across the country.  Local Authority workers in UNISON, GMB and UNITE are taking a day's strike action over pay restraint which has seen their pay fall in real terms faster than any other group of workers Assemble 1100hrs Devonshire Green. Speakers at 1115hrs. March sets off 1130hrs. 1230hrs arrive at City Hall steps Barkers Pool for final rally and speeches. Close 1330hrs.    

Regional coach to TUC Britain needs a pay rise demo, London, 18 Oct 2014

Workers in Britain are facing the biggest squeeze on their incomes since Victorian times; wages have fallen in real terms every year since 2010. Britain's richest people have managed to DOUBLE their wealth in the five years since the financial crash with a combined fortune of £519billion.  This TUC demonstration will take place at the end of a week of strikes by various unions, including FE members of UCU.   Let’s make this the biggest TUC demo ever – Britain Needs a Pay Rise. SHEFFIELD:  depart 7.45am - Paternoster Row (near Showcase Cinema) S1 2BX Book seats on the coach via Helen Sidlow, UCU Regional Office:

SUCU Branch News 25 Sept 2014

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Industrial action - USS ballot starts 1 Oct

Delegates at the Special USS Conference last Friday discussed the threats to the USS pension scheme and the UCU negotiators' recommendation to ballot for industrial action.   The Conference agreed to a ballot for industrial action, to be taken if agreement can't be reached. The ballot will start next Wednesday 1st October and close on Monday 20 October. The Universities UK proposal would mean a reduction of thousands of pounds in the annual pension for most members, and indications are that further erosion of the scheme would follow. The proposal is:
  • Closure of the final salary section of USS, with all final salary scheme members forced into the inferior career average scheme
  • A £40,000 earnings cap above which even the career average scheme will not apply
  • A grossly inferior new 'defined contribution' (money purchase) pot for salary above £40k, with a lower employer contribution, the income from which would depend upon 'investment performance'.
Your union's message is:
  • The huge 'deficit' is artificial - USS is healthy and growing. The USS projections involved are contested by UCU and we believe the employers’ proposals are a deliberate overreaction.  Since 2011, the fund’s investments have grown by £8bn.  Returns on investment have outperformed both average earnings and inflation.
  • If the Employers are allowed to introduce a defined contribution scheme then indications are that they would soon end all guaranteed benefits.  We know this from experience.  We predicted that they would propose ending the final salary scheme once they got the inferior career average scheme in place, and now they are.  We predict they will do the same with the grossly inferior 'money purchase' scheme if they get away with introducing it.  This must be stopped.
Click here for more information from UCU, and this flyer gives detailed information about what the threats mean and why they aren't necessary.   A few examples of how typical career pathways will be affected.   Times Higher article - USS reforms seen as ‘radical attack’ on pensions

 FE members in England to strike on Tuesday 14 October  

UCU’s further education committee (FEC) met last Friday (12 September) to consider an e-ballot of members in English colleges where 85% of those who voted chose to reject the 1% final pay offer for 2014/15. Following significant discussion regarding the level of turnout in the member consultation, the legality of taking action and of all available options, FEC voted in favour of calling on FE members in England to take strike action on Tuesday 14 October 2014. Members will be joining colleagues in other public sector unions, providing opportunity for coordinated regional rallies and demonstrations. Full report and latest FE News here.

 Regional UCU coach to TUC Britain needs a pay rise demo, London, 18 Oct 2014

UCU HQ can fund a coach for our region to this important demonstration.  Plans are being finalised but the intention is for the coach to pick up in York, Leeds and Sheffield.  A leaflet and further details will be forwarded soon.

 Stand up to UKIP demo in Doncaster (at UKIP conference),27 Sept 2014  

More information..

SUCU Branch News 18 Sept 2014

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Update from Branch EGM today

An extremely well attended meeting heard from Roger Brooks National Exec member.  Roger gave a comprehensive overview of the threats to the current USS scheme which include the closure of the final salary scheme for all staff and the introduction of a new hybrid scheme. This UCU briefing provides more information, and a UCU commissioned report is expected soon that will show the affect of the Employers' proposals for different career paths.  There was a discussion about taking industrial action including action short of a strike.  A special USS conference tomorrow will consider the recommendations of the UCU negotiators working group.  These include seeking a mandate for industrial action. We will inform you of further updates.

New UCU colleagues

Many UCU members from other institutions will be moving to Sheffield at this time of year.  It would be really helpful to remind colleagues that their membership will only be transferred to this Branch if they inform UCU.  This can be done either by contacting or by updating their details online.  Please also talk to colleagues who are not in the union about joining us and pass on this flyer providing more information. Every member increases our strength.

 Occupational Health Service

How many of you are aware that Occupational Health is now called Workplace Health and Wellbeing and is under the banner of Juice?  

Britain Needs A Pay Rise: TUC national demonstration 18 October 2014

The march starts from Embankment at 11am and will end with a rally in Hyde Park.  Coaches are leaving Sheffield at 8am.  To book a seat contact: or text 07476164537* today! *answerphone - please leave details of your request and contact number for reply. Read more..

SUCU Branch News 11 Sept 2014

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Threats to USS Pension -  EGM Thurs 18 Sept, 1pm

The employers are considering the abolition of the final salary scheme.  Intense negotiations on the future of the USS pension scheme have been taking place over the summer. Cuts to pension provision are a real threat, and UCU is considering whether to go into formal dispute. SUCU Committee is calling members to attend an EGM on Thurs 18 Sept 1-2pm, in advance of a Special USS Conference the following day.  We want to discuss the USS negotiations with members, so that our reps go to the Conference on the 19th with an informed view about your feelings on pensions and possible industrial action. Our guest speaker will be Roger Brooks UCU national excec member. Venue: Hicks Building, LT10. More details will follow, and if you're not on campus on the day of the meeting please forward your views to

A 'why I'm leaving academia' piece

Members may be interested to read this article from Marina Warner.