20 March: open letter to the Vice Chancellor

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Dear Vice Chancellor and esteemed colleagues,

I am writing this second open letter on behalf of the UCU branch committee at Senate House, University of London following conclusion of 14 days of industrial action.

Firstly, let me thank you for agreeing to spread strike pay deductions over four months. This represents an important show of goodwill to staff here and is much appreciated.

Prior to the Thursday 22 March open meeting for University of London staff, hosted by UCU Senate House, we ask you to address the following points. In briefing on where we are in the current pension dispute, we would like to give colleagues the opportunity to know where you stand on the issue.

1. Expert panel to look at the valuation of USS

There has been significant levels of debate around the valuation of USS. We noted with interest UUK’s announcement on Sunday that an expert panel will be convened to consider the valuation of the pension scheme. We feel strongly that the membership of this panel and the terms of reference of their work needs to be jointly agreed between UCU and UUK. A failure to work collaboratively on establishing this panel would further damage trust in UUK as a negotiating partner.

2. Commitment to defined benefit (DB) as the predominant USS pension model

UCU members overwhelmingly rejected the proposal brokered by ACAS on Monday 12 March. Many of the UCU members that took industrial action did so in order to fight for the continuation of a guaranteed income during retirement, and the offer did not adequately address this concern.

The current pensions dispute undoubtedly remains on.

  • The mandate for UCU members to take action short of strike remains and will continue until 19 June. 2018.
  • UCU’s Higher Education Committee met on 8 March 2018, and agreed two sets of action:
    • A week of strike action after the Easter break in institutions where teaching is still taking place.
    • 14 days of strikes targeted at the assessment period.
  • External examiners have been asked to show support for this dispute by resigning from external examining posts at affected universities.

I request an urgent response to this matter.

Yours sincerely,

Tim Hall
Branch Chair, UCU Senate House