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Significant milestone in defence of USS

30 April 2018 | last updated: 29 October 2019

UCU general secretary Sally Hunt has updated members on USS developments following the decision by UCU members to accept revised proposals from the employers, which includes a significant milestone in UCU's campaign.

In her latest update she writes 'UCU and Universities UK (UUK) have agreed at a meeting of the Joint Negotiating Committee (JNC) to formally rescind the employers' original proposal for a fully defined contribution pension scheme', adding 'this is a significant milestone in our campaign. Members will recall that in November 2017 I recommended to the higher education committee (HEC) that we ballot for strike action and described it as "the worst proposal I have received in twenty years of representing university staff." Now it has gone.'

She then provides an update on the new panel agreed to review the latest USS valuation:

'UCU and UUK are working constructively to set up the Joint Expert Panel (JEP) agreed by members which will look at the 2017 USS valuation. The agreed terms of reference can be viewed here.

Members who wish to be considered for one of the three UCU nominated places on the JEP are invited to submit an application using the process described here.  

UCU and UUK have asked ACAS to propose an independent chair for the JEP for consideration by the union's Superannuation Working Group and we will make this announcement as soon as possible.

USS have announced that if the JEP does not come to a conclusion in time they intend to invoke their rule 76.4. In a nutshell this means that current pension benefits would be protected from April 2019 and funded by a shared increase in costs between employers (+6.9%) and members (3.7%). USS has advised that if the report from the JEP and the subsequent JNC proposal comes too late to implement for April 2019 then the recommendations will be put in place as soon as possible thereafter via an agreed amendment process.

From UCU's perspective this move towards 76.4 is not a great surprise and it provides a powerful incentive for the employers to reach agreement with UCU once the JEP has reported on the valuation. However at the USS JNC meeting on 27 April UCU joined UUK in pressing USS not to trigger any formal benefit consultation required by rule 76.4 and to give the JEP the time to do its work.'

Members will be kept updated.