Message from General Secretary, Sally Hunt:

“Dear colleague

The union’s higher education committee (HEC) met today to discuss the USS pension dispute including the agreement to a programme of negotiations between now and 15 January 2015. HEC also considered the following statement on pay docking arising from last week’s negotiations:

“The University and College Union (UCU) and Universities UK (UUK) have confirmed, following discussions yesterday (Wednesday), an agreement to suspend the industrial action in relation to the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) pensions dispute from today (Thursday 20 November) until after the joint negotiating committee (JNC) meeting scheduled for Thursday 15 January 2015.

UCU and UUK have agreed to a series of negotiating meetings between now and the scheduled January JNC. It is hoped that this period can be used to close the differences between the negotiating positions, with a view to reaching agreement on reforms to the USS scheme.

Both parties are committed to seeking a joint proposal for reform that offers an affordable, sustainable and attractive pension scheme, for both current and future members. Both parties are pleased that the agreement to suspend industrial action at this early stage will mean that students will not have been adversely affected and members of staff will not have had pay deducted.”

HEC agreed on the above basis that the current boycott of assessment and any planned  strike action related to punitive pay docking should be suspended with immediate effect until 16 January 2015. HEC also agreed that should any subsequent action by UCU next year attract punitive pay docking then national strike action would follow.

On behalf of HEC I would like to thank you for your continuing support of UCU in this dispute. The modest progress achieved so far has been as a result of your action in support of our negotiating strategy. The employers should be in no doubt that if agreement is not possible, UCU will call upon you to resume the action again in January.

Best wishes

Sally Hunt
UCU general secretary “

Bulletin No 3

The Dispute: It’s Not Over…

Members will have seen the letter announcing the substance of the tripartite national negotiators’ meeting yesterday.

The agreements reached at that meeting are a great testimony to the power of the boycott. The employers are offering to modify their position, both on the reform of USS and on the vexed question of punitive deductions for so-called partial performance.

With all this in mind, it is important now to sustain the current boycott, in the days ahead, until UCU’s Higher Education Committee meeting on Wednesday 19th has made its formal recommendations in response to the UCU negotiators’ report.

Our university managers are hoping that the boycott will now melt away. We must keep up the pressure until we know the details of the national agreement next week.

Democratic process is complex. Timing is crucial. Collective action has already achieved significant gains. Let’s not jeopardise those gains by a premature sigh of relief and a discreet abandonment of the boycott.