USS pension dispute update

This is a detailed and comprehensive update for members covering the items listed.  Please do read on.

  • Student Support.
  • 25% punitive deductions – alternative strategy of calling all members to strike action
  • UCU proposal
  • Why we must win this
  • Response to questions
  • Hardship payments
  • Liverpool UCU strike action
  • USS meetings in Departments

Student Support

University of Sheffield Student Union have passed a policy supporting the marking boycott and any strike action we decide to take and calling on the University to publicly put forward a view on changes to USS.  Full text of motion.  And student representatives from students’ unions from across the UK, including national NUS and NUS Scotland officers, have written to the Independent laying the blame for the current action firmly on university managements and Universities UK.  Read more..


25% punitive deductions – alternative strategy of calling all members to strike action

HR have updated their advice and are deducting 25% of pay from the day your assessment/marking activity is due to start and for every day until the marking is complete, ie presumably until the end of the dispute.  SUCU Committee are aware that these punitive deductions by the University management have a very uneven impact on our members and throw up many anomalies.  SUCU Committee will be proposing an alternative strategy of instead all members taking strike action proportional to the pay docking, eg two days a fortnight.  The strategy would would need the sanction of the national HE Committee.  A motion to this effect will be proposed at the next General Meeting 27th Nov 1-2pm in the Council Chamber, Octagon Centre.  We need a good turn out for this branch meeting.  The proposed motion will be circulated shortly.


UCU Proposal to the Employers

Last week many of you attended the EGM to discuss the dispute, boycott strategies, and an update from the special USS meeting the day before.  Members were advised of UCU’s proposal, since put to the employers. Great concern was voiced across the room.  The following motion was agreed at the meeting and sent to our national negotiators.

Motion from University of Sheffield UCU EGM 5 November 2014:

This meeting is deeply concerned at the proposals discussed at the national USS meeting yesterday, which are to be put to the employers very shortly:

  • We believe UCU is conceding far too much too early. This is a dangerous opening gambit.
  • Our proposals should be on the basis of a realistic funding valuation, not the over prudent valuation which is disputed by UCU and some employers.
  • The proposals should also be on the basis of what was voted on in the ballot. Putting forward proposals on the basis of the flawed valuation goes against the whole direction and tenor of the previous emails and publicity from HQ.
  • The employers are breaking ranks in public, and in UCU there was an excellent ballot turnout and ballot result. We should make use of our strong position, not immediately make huge concessions.

We strongly urge our negotiators not to put forward to the employers proposals like those discussed on 4 November based on the flawed funding valuation.


Passed nem con

UCU negotiators met the Employers last Friday and are due to meet again tomorrow.  We will send you updates as we hear them.


Why we must win this

The UCU proposal is still vastly superior to the Employers position. If the Employers get away with introducing a Trojan horse ‘Defined Contribution’ element into USS then they would undoubtedly soon try to extend this (as they have with CARE) and we could end up with a scheme with no guaranteed benefits at all.  This MUST be stopped.


  • The employers can afford it – pre92 institutions are doing very well.
  • The deficit is entirely artificial. Part comes from inappropriate legislation and part from deliberate ‘over-prudence’ by the Trustees and Employers (though some are breaking ranks).

SUCU Committee will be proposing an alternative strategy of calling all members to strike action but in the mean time we must hold firm our position and maintain the assessment and marking boycott


Response to questions

A number of anomalies have been thrown up as a result of the University’s 25% pay docking and members have been sending questions – not specifically covered by the UCU FAQs.  One common question is that if we are being docked 25% should we only work 75%?  The answer we have just received from HQ is No – only assessment work can be boycotted as that is the action that has been declared.
We would like to thank members for their questions and for their patience.


Hardship payments

The national strike fund will be available to members after three full days loss of pay, or equivalent where members docked less than 100 per cent (and pro rata for part timers) and for those who can show disproportionate hardship before that point. Members will receive up to a net £75 a day based on their actual loss. See the FAQs. HQ say the online form for this will be ready shortly.

If this still leaves you with problems, SUCU Committee is conscious that some members, especially postgraduate students or those who are hourly paid (bank workers) will experience financial difficulty resulting from loss of income before that point.  SUCU is able to offer support to members who experience hardship as a result of taking industrial action by contacting Jane Rodger, Branch Administrator, email PLEASE PUT THE WORDS “SUCU HARDSHIP APPLICATION” IN THE SUBJECT FIELD and provide some information about why you would be subject to hardship if you lose income as a result of the action. All contact will be completely confidential.


SOAS break ranks

SOAS is the latest employer to break ranks.  They are making no pay deductions and are pressing UUK (the employer body) to review their strategy.  Why is Sheffield University not doing the same?


Liverpool UCU vote for strike action

Liverpool is one of a number of University managements to make the aggressive announcement that it will dock 100% pay for partial performance in the assessment boycott Liverpool UCU has voted to go on strike until this threat is lifted.  They have also called on the national union to act on our ballot mandate for a national strike.

Members at Liverpool will be now meeting on each Monday and we would like to be able to read out as many messages and pledges as possible at the next meeting. Members at Liverpool need to see support coming in from around the country. Send messages of support to:


USS meetings in Departments

Many members have held and are organising workplace meetings in their Departments to discuss the boycott and dispute and we would encourage this across all Departments.  If possible a SUCU Committee member will attend. Please note there will be a meeting for members in the Faculty of Arts and Humanities next Tues 18 Nov 1-2pm in the Jessop West Exhibition Space.


More resources: