Union urged to consult members on USS pensions offer

30 Aug 2019

It is unhelpful that the University and College Union (UCU) continues to peddle misinformation on negotiations that have taken place and continue on contribution levels into the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS).

On Thursday 22 August, the USS Joint Negotiating Committee decided to split contributions into the scheme with employers paying in 21.1% of salary and members 9.6% from 1 October 2019. This decision was taken by the Committee’s independent chair and supported by employers to avoid the much higher contribution rates that would have come into effect from October (22.5% for employers, 10.4% for members).

During the discussions between Universities UK, representing 341 employers, and UCU, representing all scheme members, Universities UK offered members a lower contribution rate of 9.1%, subject to consultation with members and employers, if the union agreed not to proceed with the planned ballot on industrial action, due to start on 9 September.

This verbal offer was followed up in writing on Tuesday 27 August, and employers and union officials are due to meet on Wednesday 4 September to discuss this offer again. Should it prove acceptable to UCU, the offer would then be subject to further consultation with employers.

Despite receiving the offer in writing on Tuesday, UCU published information on its website yesterday claiming that employers “insist on a two-year moratorium on any industrial action”, which is untrue.

A spokesperson for Universities UK said:

“We would prefer not to have to negotiate in public like this, but UCU is completely misrepresenting the employer position to union members. At the JNC, UCU negotiators indicated they were unwilling to compromise, refused to consult their members over the alternative offer, and consequently rejected it. Our offer would result in a lower member contribution rate of 9.1% – exactly aligned with the rate proposed by the Joint Expert Panel in its first report, which employers and the union support. The USS Trustee is open to considering whether the current split in contributions can be changed, so we would urge the union to engage constructively with this offer.”