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UUK must withdraw pension cuts if they want to avoid strikes, says UCU

13 October 2021

Responding to Universities UK's (UUK) claims that they are serious about reforming USS and making progress towards 'higher quality, lower cost' pensions, UCU general secretary Jo Grady said: 'All the press releases in the world cannot hide the fact that UUK are cutting USS members' guaranteed pensions by 35%. Instead of wasting time on ridiculous PR moves like this to undermine our upcoming strike ballot, employers should withdraw their cuts and agree to a new valuation of the scheme.

'UUK's press release urges UCU to work with them on reforming the USS pension scheme, yet the contents do not reflect the reality of the discussions that have taken place, which is ironic to say the least.

'UCU is of course open to exploring new areas of scheme design, including conditional indexation, but as yet no detail has been provided or terms of reference been drawn up. Reform via press release will not deliver the meaningful change that members need, nor will hollow gestures of 'joint working' after employers have already forced through their cuts.

'It's quite something for employers to now be talking about exploring a high-quality low cost option for members. This was exactly what UCU negotiators proposed in the union's own plans, which for the first time in the scheme's history would have guaranteed benefits for the thousands of low-paid and insecurely employed staff who are currently priced out of joining USS. Our members haven't forgotten that employers spiked these proposals, opting to force through their own cuts instead.

'There have been two governance reviews of USS already, which produced clear recommendations. There is no need for another review and calling for one is just employers kicking the can down the road, yet again.

'If employers really want to avoid industrial action this term, they must at the very least indicate they are sincere about working with UCU and its members. The best way to do that is to immediately withdraw their disgraceful pension cuts.'

Last updated: 14 October 2021