I’ve received some feedback on my comments about the current situation in UK universities. But not quite the level of feedback that Jo Cumbo is getting!
The way USS has handled this is just ridiculous. University staff don’t take kindly to being asked to swallow a pack of lies to justify a 35% reduction in pension benefits.
— Daniel R. Thomas (@DanielRThomas24) September 2, 2021
I include Daniel’s comment because it is aligned to many of the private emails I have received. Take this one for instance.
The intransigence over the valuation is USS management’s and they call in TPR in support.
Rather than standing up to TPR, USS management is conniving with them. Kate Barker is totally out of her depth and shit scared of TPR.
Galvin and his coterie have to go.
It is rather sad that USS management has managed to set UUK and UCU at odds with one another, when the problem lies with them, not UUK or UCU.
Such sentiments suggest that the UCU an UUK are both being short-changed by the USS Scheme and the Regulator.
I would not be surprised to see the focus of the UCU turn against a pensions system that is not delivering value for either the employer’s or member’s money.
The point has been made many times that SAUL, a similar scheme to USS , is not looking to implement cuts despite it having a similar benefit structure to USS, nor is SAUK looking to push contribution rates up, There is concern that USS is running an expensive shop and simply not converting money in to money out efficiently,
But USS has done a good job of making its problem into the problems of UUK and UCU and – as one correspondent puts it “to set UCU and UUK at odds with each other.
As an outsider to this, I would hope that industrial action is not taken against the employer but that pressure is brought to bear on USS to explain just why its finances are in such ropey shape relative to its peers and how it can justify its high running costs at a time when it expects its stakeholders to be tightening their belts.
A mass meeting of UK university sector workers is to be held today to discuss industrial action over #pension reforms.
This week, the University and College Union (UCU) warned industrial action was "inevitable" over cuts to retirement benefits for members of the #USS scheme.
— Josephine Cumbo (@JosephineCumbo) September 3, 2021
Meanwhile, The Pensions Regulator needs to reconsider its position on USS’ funding. The last time we saw such a calamitous strike looming , ACAS brought Royal Mail and the CWU to the table and with the help of pension experts, a strike was averted and a new kind of pension created.
Now seems the time for UCU and UUK to do something similar. It should be noted that the Government were a major stakeholder in Royal Mail’s pension situation, effectively underwriting much of the DB debt. The taxpayer is deeply immersed in the financing of the University system in this country and can reasonably ask why a third pension strike is necessary.
TPR needs to actively engage with employers and union and that may well mean adopting the “can do” attitude that has resulted in industrial harmony at Royal Mail and what appears to be a lasting pension settlement.
“The taxpayer is deeply immersed in the financing of the University system in this country and can reasonably ask why a third pension strike is necessary.”
Because this is the third time that our pension has been attacked – benefits reduced and payment increased – over the past few years? Action breeds reaction. And why should I – who am also a taxpayer by the way – be “reasonably asked” to accept the situation you have just described? Our pension was supposed to make up for our relatively modest pay… Fat chance now.
It is a problem of investment return. Not enough investment return leads to smaller pensions. It is as simple as that!