Uproar After Uni Pensions Referendum Rejected

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London lecturers marching against savage cuts in jobs and attacks on their terms and conditions in May this year
London lecturers marching against savage cuts in jobs and attacks on their terms and conditions in May this year

THERE was uproar throughout the Universities and College Union (UCU) yesterday, after the employers threw out the union’s proposal that huge pensions changes should be put to a ballot.

Members of the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) will be denied a vote on changes to their pension scheme after the employers’ representatives rejected calls for a ballot of all affected members at a board of trustees meeting on Thursday night. UCU said the decision was ‘anti-democratic’ and warned that it will weaken the credibility the scheme has with its members.

The three trustees representing employees on the USS board proposed a referendum of all USS members on the changes proposed by the employers. The union says new starters would lose more than £100,000 in pension payments, compared to the current scheme, and long-serving staff made redundant would be forced to accept inferior benefits.

UCU General Secretary, Sally Hunt, said: ‘The decision to deny fund members a vote on fundamental changes to their pension scheme will come back to haunt the employers. It shows that they are unwilling to either argue the case in a referendum or be bound by its result. It is an anti-democratic disgrace that universities would seek to implement changes without the mandate of those affected.

‘This issue will not go away. We will be pressing for a transparent referendum of all USS members in every institution before they respond to the sham consultation. If the scheme is to retain any credibility, university vice-chancellors need to join me in urging the USS board to reconsider its decision, otherwise lasting damage will be done to the relationship between staff and the sector’s leaders.’