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Update on negotiations

22 January 2020

I have a short update for members about the ongoing negotiations in our higher education disputes.

USS 

Talks continue between UCU, employers, and USS over the recommendations in the second report of the Joint Expert Panel (JEP). The next meeting takes place tomorrow, Thursday 23 January. A brief report on the progress made in the first meeting can be found here and updates on the other meetings will follow. 

In addition, our negotiators have won a small but significant victory for USS members at the last meeting of the USS joint negotiating committee (JNC). The previously agreed salary threshold for accrual of members' defined benefits was scheduled for a review, with the result that it would be temporarily frozen rather than increasing in line with inflation. However, after talks at the JNC employers eventually agreed to our request to postpone the review and let the threshold continue to increase for at least five more years. The upshot is that members' accrual of defined benefits will be protected against inflation for longer than originally scheduled. 

The fact that employers have done this shows that our industrial action is working. They are working with us for the time being because they know that refusing to do so is only likely to exacerbate tensions between us and add more fuel to any future action. 

Four Fights 

Talks with employers about our 'four fights' dispute on pay, equality, job security and workload continue this Friday, 24 January. I will update you as soon as possible after that meeting with a full assessment of the progress which I think we have made so far. 

This is scheduled to be the final meeting with employers before the crucial meeting of the elected reps on UCU's higher education committee (HEC) on Thursday 30 January. At that meeting, the HEC will consider how negotiations have developed in both the pay and USS disputes; whether more action needs to be called in either or both; and if so, what form that action should take. HEC also has the option to consider whether to consult branches before taking further steps. 

As general secretary, I do not have a vote on the HEC, but I will present a report with advice and recommendations about the conduct of our higher education disputes. As ever, please get in touch with me if you have any questions or feedback.

Jo Grady
UCU general secretary

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