Vote today, don’t delay! Why we are balloting to save our pensions

Dear members,

Our two UK ballots over pensions, pay, and fair working conditions will close next week. You need to send your ballot papers back by Tuesday, 2 November at the latest to ensure they count. Don’t delay: send your ballot papers back today, and let us know!

Important, the deadline to request new ballot papers is 5pm TODAY! If you haven’t had yours, 1. check your preferred address on My UCU, then 2. request a replacement ballot here. Don’t lose your chance to vote!

Why are we balloting over USS?

USS is continuing its longstanding mission to kill off our pensions through unsound valuations and ‘reckless prudence’. We have been here before. Every three years (or sometimes more frequently), USS completes a valuation that seems hard-wired to produce a deficit. And our employers use each valuation as an excuse to scale our pensions back further. The graphic below, which shows the real terms asset growth of USS vs their own, increasingly prudent forecasts, makes it clear that the USS valuations have no grounding in reality; they serve only to strip us of our hard-earned pensions. After over a decade of this ‘death by a thousand cuts’ approach, we are now paying ~50% more for pensions worth significantly less, with more cuts coming every three years. This has to stop. UCU demands that our employers revoke their planned cuts and insist on replacing the 2020 valuation, which cynically exploits the pandemic as a rationale to take our pension benefits away, with an updated, evidence-based 2021 calculation.

How much money does USS want to take from you?

If you haven’t had the opportunity yet, we suggest you use UCU’s USS modeller, which tells you how much you stand to lose if the proposals from our employers are forced onto us.

As an illustration (conducted with thanks by one of our members), a Grade 8 lecturer who retires at age 67 and lives until age 85 stands to potentially lose approximately £175,000 of gross income from the DB (guaranteed) part of their pension over the course of their retirement. This income loss is equivalent to the same member going on strike and receiving strike pay deductions for 6 years and 2 months!

Adding in an expected (but far from guaranteed!) approximately £120,000 from the defined contribution benefits that would replace them, they would still stand to lose over £55,000 over their retirement, equivalent to just under 2 years of going on strike!

Check the impacts on you using the calculator from UCU.

None of us want to lose money through strike deductions. But we simply cannot afford not to (and on strike we are supported by the UCU fighting fund). Please vote YES to action short of a strike and strike action.

Sheffield UCU committee