Speaking following confirmation from the University and College Union (UCU) that they will ballot members for industrial action over the USS pension scheme, a UUK spokesperson on behalf of USS employers said:
“We are disappointed UCU is campaigning for industrial action over reforms to USS, as they have not proposed a viable solution of their own. The USS Trustee’s assessment of the scheme’s costs means reforms are needed; no change is not an option. The employers’ reform proposal will prevent harmful and unaffordable rises in contributions. UCU may not like the legal and regulatory constraints pensions operate under, but it is irresponsible to make students and staff suffer as a result.
“The reforms voted for by the Joint Negotiating Committee ensure good benefits can be provided for affordable contributions, but employers will still consider alternative solutions. Employers have asked UCU to put forward alternative proposals, but as yet, none have been forthcoming. By proceeding with ballots, the union appears unconcerned by higher contributions, pay cuts, job losses, damage to the student experience, and financial hardship for their members, that will all result if employers are forced to pay more into pensions.
“We have formally invited UCU to work with employers to develop lower-cost options for members, consider alternative scheme designs – including Conditional Indexation – and review the scheme’s governance – these are issues where employers and scheme members share a common desire for change.
“Universities are well prepared to mitigate the impact of any industrial action on students’ learning, and minimise disruption for those staff choosing not to take part.”
Notes to editors
- USS is one of the largest private pension schemes in the UK and is the principal scheme for academic and comparable staff in UK universities and other higher education and research institutions. Universities UK represents the views of 340 higher education employers on USS.