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University pension changes cannot be implemented without deal, warns leaked letter

16 March 2011

As employers refuse talks on eve of first UK-wide university strike action in five years, leaked letter says changes cannot go ahead without two sides agreeing a deal.

UCU today made another plea to the employers' representatives to get back round the table and negotiate over changes to the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) pension scheme.
UCU members in 63 UK universities are due to take action over the changes to their pensions from Thursday (17 March) in series of strikes* that will disrupt the studies of over a million students.
UCU has seen a letter from the USS chief executive that makes it clear that the union and the employers' representatives (EPF) need to resolve their differences before any changes to the scheme can be implemented.
UCU has invited the employers to talks through the arbitration service, ACAS, but they have so far refused to take up the offer. The union has also rejected new claims from the employers that their proposed changes are fairer than those recommended by Lord Hutton is his report last week.
The union said that it did not believe that plans to impose inflation caps on USS members was fair and pointed out that Lord Hutton shied away from transferring that risk onto individual members. The union said it hoped that EPF had not missed that detail of the Hutton report and said it would be happy to add inflation caps to the agenda at negotiations.
UCU general secretary, Sally Hunt, said: 'I find it quite incredible that the employers are persisting with such a ridiculous macho stance of refusing to talk to us. Those in charge of the pension scheme have made it clear that both sides need to talk to achieve a resolution and those caught in the middle - the students - have already urged us to get round the table to sort this mess out.
'It is quite clear from the employers' reading of the recent Hutton report that we have new and different views on the future of the USS pension scheme. We have heard enough excuses and seen enough posturing; now is the time to talk and get this dispute sorted out.'
UCU members of the USS pension scheme are striking against detrimental proposals to reduce pension benefits and increase costs, even though the scheme is in robust health. More information on the dispute can be found at: USS changes - key questions

* The full list of strike dates:
Thursday 17 March - Scotland
Friday 18 March - Wales
Monday 21 March - Northern Ireland
Tuesday 22 March - England
Thursday 24 March - UK-wide

Last updated: 11 December 2015