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UCU members vote to accept new pension proposals

26 January 2015 | last updated: 10 December 2015

UCU members have voted to accept new proposals for their pensions and not restart a marking and assessment boycott at 69 UK institutions. Two-thirds (67.1%) of those who voted agreed to accept the new proposals.

Members of the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) had been in dispute with their employers after the umbrella group, Universities UK, tabled detrimental changes to USS pension benefits in autumn 2014. 

Analysis produced for UCU by First Actuarial showed that the proposals would have meant a range of losses in the value of members estimated annual pension benefits of up to 27%.

The original UUK proposals included:

  • the closing of the final salary section of USS
  • indexing the final salary service by CPI rather than final salary from 1 April 2016
  • the move of all members into the current career average scheme based on an accrual rate of 1/80th
  • setting a £40,000 earnings cap above which defined benefit career average benefits would not build up.

UCU members voted for industrial action in the form of an assessment and marking boycott, which began on 6 November last year. During the ballot, the employers tabled formal proposals to increase the cap to £50,000. The union also tabled counter proposals.

The boycott was suspended after two weeks when the employers said they would not press ahead with their proposals and would meet with the union to try and reach an agreement.

Following those talks in December and January, a new set of proposals were put to members to vote on which included:

  • an improvement in the accrual rate from 1/80th  to 1/75th
  • an increase in the earnings cap to £55,000
  • a guarantee that the employers will maintain an increased contribution (from 16% to 18% of salary) for two further valuations for at least the next five years (to 2020)
  • an agreement with the employers that any improvement in the USS funding position should be used to improve benefits rather than be used by USS for further de-risking
  • an agreement to continue a review of the contested funding methodology adopted by USS.