The University of Nottingham (UoN) University College Union (UCU) branch has rejected the latest proposal put forward by Universities UK (UUK) and University College Union (UCU) negotiators over the USS pension dispute.
The new proposal outlined a transitional arrangement for three years from 1st April 2019, in which levels of detailed benefits (DB) would be maintained for all scheme members up to a salary threshold of £42,000.
The maintenance of detailed benefits would be supported by higher contributions by both employers and employees, rising from 18% to 19.3% for employers and from 8% to 8.7% for employees.
After a meeting this morning (13th March), the UoN UCU have formally rejected ‘the proposed agreement in line with the views of an overwhelming majority of [its] members.’
In a statement released this afternoon (13th March), the UoN UCU said:
“After consulting with members, [we] recommend that HEC reject the agreement proposed by the negotiating team. This position has been taken following online consultation, which received over 100 individual replies, and an Open Branch Committee meeting in which 150 members participated.”
“The strikes and action short of a strike remain on, and [UCU] would now make detailed preparations for strikes over the assessment and exam period”
The statement highlighted ‘specific concerns over the accrual rate, the cap on indexation and revaluation, the contribution rate, and the drop in the DB cap to £42k, which we do not regard as “meaningful”.’
In a statement released on Tuesday afternoon, UCU confirmed that they have rejected the proposal drawn up at talks between UCU and UUK. The union also confirmed that ‘the strikes and action short of a strike remain on, and it would now make detailed preparations for strikes over the assessment and exam period.’
UCU general secretary Sally Hunt said: ‘Branches made it clear today that they wanted to reject the proposal. UCU’s greatest strength is that we are run for our members.’
‘We want urgent talks with the universities’ representatives to try and find a way to get this dispute resolved.’
Last Friday (9th March), University of Nottingham Vice-Chancellor, Shearer West, published an open letter to students, in which she said:
“I am happy to add my voice to those universities willing to make a small increase in our financial contributions to the pension scheme to allow the necessary time for UUK and UCU to agree how to end the dispute.”
In their statement released on 12th March, UUK and UCU negotiators had initially addressed the issue of rescheduling teaching:
“Both UUK and UCU recognise that trust needs to be rebuilt following this dispute. They also recognise that strike action will lead to the loss of pay.
“UCU undertakes to encourage its members to prioritise the rescheduling of teaching in order to minimise the disruption to students.”
“Such encouragement as outlined in the agreement directly contradicts the basic principle of strike action.”
In response to this, the University of Nottingham UCU branch said:
“Our branch absolutely rejects absolutely the suggestion that UCU should encourage teaching staff to reschedule teaching sessions, which we see as unrealistic and divisive.
“Such encouragement as outlined in the agreement directly contradicts the basic principle of strike action; the focus on teaching specifically also represents an insult to the large numbers of APM and Research staff who have stood alongside teaching colleagues throughout the dispute.”
The UoN UCU statement also said that “the agreement appears to accept the marketisation of higher education and embeds the current approach to HE that has led to an unacceptable level of casualisation across the sector.”
The full University of Nottingham UCU branch statement can be found here: https://twitter.com/UoNUCU
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