SUCU Branch News 22 Jan 2015

USS: Defending our pensions

SUCU Committee recommends that members vote ‘No’

SUCU Committee believes that the current ‘potential agreement’ offer represents a major cut in pensions. The offer accepts the parameters of the huge fake projected deficit, and cuts pensions to fill this gap. As well as ending Final Salary, it concedes the principle of a Defined Contribution element for contributions over £55,000 that allows the Employer to cut their contributions to 12%, provides members with no certainty about the value of their pension and paves the way for future concessions.
SUCU Committee therefore calls on all members to vote to reject the offer.
Members on the UCU Higher Education Committee who believe the proposed USS deal is completely unacceptable have sent this message for all members

What about our motion sent requesting a Special Sector Conference?
If 20 branches require a Special Conference then it must be called.  This is the mechanism for the membership to get back in charge of the dispute. We believe that more than 20 branches submitted motions like our own but the conference is not being called.  HQ has told us ours has been accepted but are refusing to say which branches have submitted such motions and which have been rejected and why.  Nevertheless we are hopeful that the 20 can be reached – for instance Nottingham just passed the motion this week.

Decoding the jargon: Defined Benefit v Defined Contribution
Defined Benefit means that you know what benefits you’ll get when you retire. So both of the current schemes (‘Final Salary’ and ‘Career Average’) fit this – you have a clear idea what pension you’ll be getting when you retire.
Defined Contribution means that what you put in is defined, but not what pension you’ll get out, as it all depends on the vagaries of the markets. Shockingly, many people’s pension ‘pots’ are far smaller than the money put in over many years. The employers (and the City of London) obviously love this as all the risk is on you. Heads they win, tails you lose. Also as there is no definite end value the contribution from you or the employer is arbitrary.  If an employer decides to cut their contribution from say 15% to 5% they can (and very many companies have).
The employers want to introduce a Defined Contribution pension for earnings above £55,000.
So why is that such a big deal as most of our pensions will still be Defined Benefit? Because there can be very little doubt that if we allow any element of Defined Contribution into USS the employers will want to grow it, until we have no Defined Benefit scheme leftThat’s why it’s vital you vote ‘No’.

USS will be discussed at the next Branch Meeting Wed 28 Jan 1pm and members are encouraged to attend.

Branch Meeting for all members next Wed 28 Jan 1pm

Under discussion will be the pensions dispute, local pay and performance management, and we have a speaker from Sheffield College where members have just voted to take industrial action.
Beverages will be served at 12.45.  The agenda is attached.
Please also display this poster.

Did you want to apply for a VC fellowship? 

We have heard some concerns about the treatment of internal applicants for VC Fellowships. Did you put in an expression of interest with your department but believe it was overlooked because you are internal? Are you of the leading calibre the scheme is looking for (competitive candidates should have high impact publications)?

If so please let us know. You can reply to this email in confidence.

Fractionals For Fair Play Conference 7 Feb

Members may be aware of this successful campaign to demand better treatment of casualised staff at SOAS.

Casualised staff survey

Members are encouraged to take part in this UCU survey for casualised staff.  If you are on a fixed-term, hourly paid, variable hours or zero hours contract, or if you are an agency worker and you have not yet completed this survey, please make sure you fill it in now and pass it on to other casualised staff you know, whether they are UCU members or not.  Read more about UCU’s campaign against casualisation. See here for details of UCU’s forthcoming annual meeting for staff on casualised contracts.