Fighting fund banner


Special HE Sector Conference - September 2021: USS & pay disputes - Co-ordination of disputes motions

16 September 2021

Special higher education sector conference - HE dispute(s), including New JNCHES, USS, TPS, and any possible links between them

11  Separating Four Fights and USS negotiations - Glasgow Caledonian University

SHESC notes:

  1. the importance of an improved JNCHES settlement in the fight against casualisation, damaging workloads, race and gender inequality, and pay erosion
  2. the need to fight back against the continuing threat to our pensions, particularly USS.

SHESC also believes that:

  1. these are two distinct campaigns, targeting different employer bodies, UCEA and UUK, where the latter involves pre-1992 universities only
  2. the USS dispute cannot be resolved at JNCHES, and pay and conditions cannot be negotiated with UUK or the USS Trustees
  3. binding the issues together into a single dispute hinders the work of our two teams of national negotiators
  4. and that making success in one campaign reliant upon success in the other hinders success in both.

Therefore, SHESC resolves to continue to campaign on both issues in a co-ordinated manner, while pursuing a resolution in the two disputes independently of each other.


12  Combining Four Fights and USS disputes - University of Leeds

HESC believes that:

  1. the four fights and USS issues are inextricably linked. Low pay, pay inequality and job insecurity mean poorer pensions and a worse retirement, and some members cannot afford pension contributions
  2. solidarity between different groups of members (casualised/permanent, different pay grades, equality groups, academic/related, pre- and post-92 branches) was hugely important during the 2019-2020 industrial action
  3. continued solidarity will be vital to winning the disputes and for building the union
  4. it is therefore crucial not to separate the disputes or give priority to either.

HESC resolves to:

  1. coordinate the four fights and USS campaigns, highlighting the links
  2. give parity to both disputes in strategic planning, balloting and publicity, ensuring that all affected branches have a voice in developing the dispute strategy
  3. ballot and take action on both disputes concurrently
  4. coordinate action with sister unions, if possible, to improve effectiveness.


13  Building on successful member-led action - University of Dundee

Conference notes:

  1. the failure of HEC to hold a Special HE Sector Conference in the first two weeks of August 2021 on the topic of HE dispute(s), including New JNCHES, USS, TPS, and any possible links between them and consequently the missed opportunity to initiate industrial action at the start of academic year 21/22 when the impact on employers would have been greatest
  2. the success of member led actions in resisting attacks by employers on our terms and conditions of employment
  3. the growth of member led UCU Solidarity Movement and its support for industrial action in defence of pension, pay and conditions.

Conference resolves:

  1. to move immediately to disaggregated ballots for industrial action in respect of pension, pay and conditions
  2. to co-ordinate joint action across the disputes and highlight the wider crisis of funding in post-16 education.


Last updated: 17 May 2022