Is the tide turning in the University pension dispute?

tide turning

The  lecturers at Oxford University have received a significant email. I don’t have the email but I have Mike Otsuka’s tweets of it.

louise richardson

This is how the dispute will be resolved. There is some powerful emotional intelligence at play here and I suspect that with negotiations in the hands of women like Louise Richardson, Janet Beer and Sally Hunt, we have rather more hope of a speedy resolution than were we leave it in the hands of us men!

UUK and UCU are back at ACAS today, after the hasty rearrangement yesterday. It seems that at last, some common sense is winning through.

If I’ve kept up: @UniversitiesUK took a decision reflecting a minority of its members, of which many were Oxbridge colleges, who deny they were ever formally represented, to undertake an action that is unnecessary, based on assumptions that are implausible. Right?!? #USSstrikes

— Rich Harris (@profrichharris) March 6, 2018

Let’s see if Cambridge follow suit.

About henry tapper

Founder of the Pension PlayPen,, partner of Stella, father of Olly . I am the Pension Plowman
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7 Responses to Is the tide turning in the University pension dispute?

  1. Contrary to your gender stereotyping, Henry, Louise Richardson showed a complete lack of emotional intelligence. She sent an email to staff scolding them for their incivility, intimating that she would block a vote by getting 20 people to stand in opposition, and suggesting that they instead have a ‘free and open’ discussion in the Sheldonian in the absence of a vote. She then twisted the arms of enough of her managerial subordinates to get 20 to stand to block the debate, while failing to see the gravity of the situation by cancelling her own travel plans in order to show up. This precipitated the mass walkout, followed by a 442-2 vote outside the Sheldonian, in opposition to her stance. By that point, she finally realised that her own position was in danger and did an abrupt about face.

    Cambridge’s VC, by contrast, has read the situation better. Just today, he pre-emptively announced that he would recommend that Council change the University’s position, so that it accepts greater risk, in advance of a meeting of their Regent House (equivalent of Oxford’s Congregation) to debate a similar resolution to Oxford’s. Link:

    • Richard Bryan says:

      You have names and evidence that the 20 (actually 21) who stood were ‘managerial subordinates’, with or without twisted arms? There are enough quirky individualists in Oxford for proceduralists to block such a motion of their own volition.

      • Re ‘managerial subordinates’, I said ‘get 20 to stand’, not ‘get 20 of them to stand’. So I didn’t say that all 20 fit this description. Rather, I said that she was able to pressure enough who fit this description to stand to meet the threshold of 20. This is based on accounts of others.

      • Richard Bryan says:

        Oh come on. That’s a real lawyer’s response. Names, rather than plausible suggestion.

        (I’m replying to myself because there’s no ‘reply’ under your last post).

      • I’ve made clear what I meant and my grounds for asserting this. Why is it essential to name names? What’s got you so bothered?

      • Richard Bryan says:

        I’m not particularly bothered.

  2. Text of email Richardson sent to staff the day before the vote:

    “Dear Colleagues,

    I am writing to you again on the subject of the proposed changes to the USS and the associated dispute.

    …You will also know that Congregation will be meeting at 2 o’clock tomorrow in the Sheldonian to consider, first, a resolution to suspend regulations to allow the meeting to go ahead without the usual notice and, if that passes, to consider a resolution on Oxford’s response to a recent consultation on possible changes to USS.

    It is entirely up to Congregation to decide whether the meeting of Congregation goes ahead tomorrow. If twenty people stand, and there are a number of reasons why they might choose to do so, it will not.

    If Congregation decides not to suspend the regulations tomorrow and the meeting ends, I would encourage those present in the Sheldonian to use the opportunity for a free and open discussion, chaired by Professor Walmsley, along the lines of the Open Fora that have been held on other issues around the university. Congregation could then have a full debate at its next regularly scheduled meeting on April 24th. The 12 other open meetings that have been scheduled from 22 March will also go ahead.

    I fully understand the depth of feeling on this issue but I have to say that I have been disheartened these past few days by the tenor of some of the debate. As a university we take pride in our defence of freedom of speech, in reasoned argument, and evidence based decisions. If we are to impart these qualities to our students, we should, at a minimum, practice them among ourselves.

    Whatever the decision on the procedural resolution tomorrow, an open discussion will take place. I hope that when it does, we will all remember our responsibility to model to our students how to respond to views they find objectionable and to express our disagreements in a spirit of “robust civility.”

    Yours sincerely
    Louise Richardson”

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