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Latest joint negotiating meeting update

23 May 2019

Please find below the latest position. For further background, please read the last update issued on 9 May.

  1. Members will recall that under the rule 76 arrangements USS have said that the cost of providing current benefits will rise to 35.6% in April 2020 if an alternative agreement cannot be reached.
  2. In response to the Joint Expert Panel (JEP) report they subsequently proposed contributions of 33.7%, or 29.7% if the employers were willing to agree 'contingent contributions'.
  3. UUK then developed proposals on contingent contributions and also set the proposal in a critique of the valuation assumptions used by USS.
  4. USS formally responded to UUK proposing three options for finalising the 2018 valuation. All three options are different, all are more than the 29.2% contributions recommended by the JEP, and all fall short of UCU policy position of 'No Detriment' however none propose any benefit changes.
  5. Since the last communication UUK have responded to USS and are now consulting employers on the USS proposals.
  6. The three options are:
    Contributions of 33.7% - (23% for employers and 10.7% for employees) to apply from April 2020
    Contributions of 29.7% - but with a mechanism for contingent contributions of three x 2% increases (an additional 6%) split 65:35 employers and members to be added to starting contributions of 20.4% and 9.3% respectively
    Contributions of 30.7% (21.1% for employers and 9.6% for employees) to apply from October 2019, with a 2020 valuation. Should no agreement on the contribution rate from the 2020 valuation be implemented before October 2021, the contribution rate would rise to 34.7% at that point.
  7. At the Joint Negotiating Committee (JNC) last week, some time was spent considering the three options, the relative increases in contributions each will mean for employers and members, the time line for each and the rule 76 October 2019 increases (22.5% employer and 10.4% members) that will come into effect if alternative proposals do not emerge from the JNC. The UUK team indicated they wanted to avoid the October increases, minimise the increases for employers and were consulting on the options which also included views on USS proposals for greater debt monitoring and a rule change designed to strengthen the covenant. The views of the regulator were also considered. The Superannuation Working Group (SWG) restated the union's position that all three options fell short of JEP and 'No Detriment'.
  8. No decisions were taken at the JNC and meeting dates for early June and July are being canvassed. By the time of the next JNC will also know the outcome of the UUK consultation, which concludes at the end of May.
  9. HE sector conference meets on Sunday 28 May as part of the union's annual congress at Harrogate over the bank holiday weekend where a number of decisions will be made. One of those decisions will be when UCU moves to a ballot of members on the final proposals. Members are invited to let their branch know their views on the latest proposals.
  10. Please continue to feedback your thoughts and comments.

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