Four reasons to vote yes in the USS and HE pay & equality ballots
- Fighting to arrest the decline in pay and pensions
Since 2009, the value of pay in higher education has fallen by 20% in real terms. At the same time, members have seen their workloads rise, while employers have failed to commit to meaningful action to address the gender pay gap or tackle the job insecurity which plagues the sector. For members in USS, changes to the scheme mean the average scheme member is now £240,000 worse off because of cuts to benefits and rising contributions.
We need to send a strong message to the employers – through strike action if necessary – that we will not tolerate a continued decline in pay, pensions and working conditions.
- Keeping higher education careers affordable
With pay in high education failing to keep pace with the cost of living and pension contributions for USS set to rise, members in pre-92 institutions face a double whammy of attacks on their standard of living. Indeed, increasing USS contributions risk pricing many people – particularly early career staff – out of the scheme altogether. Not only is this bad for those individuals, who face less security in retirement, it is bad for the scheme itself as a drop in membership could lead to greater instability overall.
Across the sector, too, we know that women are routinely paid less than men for doing the same work, while staff on insecure contracts are often struggling to make ends meet. Many staff are also putting in hours of unpaid work in an effort to stay on top of rising workloads.
Fair and equal pay, decent pensions, and secure jobs are crucially important in ensuring that careers in higher education remain affordable for the future. We must be ready to take strike action if required to protect the interests of staff and secure these commitments from employers.
- A strong mandate to focus employers’ minds
Unfortunately, experience tells us that higher education employers aren’t always fully committed to working in the interests of staff. In recent pay negotiations, they have repeatedly failed to bring forward an offer that addresses our concerns about the falling value of pay and barriers to pay progression. The have also failed to deliver any real action on workload, casualisation or gender pay.
On USS, despite endorsing the recommendations of the JEP, the employers failed to put enough pressure on the USS board to accept the findings. This paved the way for the higher contributions now facing both employers and members.
We need a strong mandate for strike action to ensure that employers’ minds are focused on securing the best possible outcomes for members on these important issues.
- Every vote is an act of solidarity
We know that not every member faces having to make difficult decisions as a result of their pay being held down, rising pension costs or the perils of insecure employment. However, we also know that we need to work together to secure the changes we want to see in the sector.
Every vote in the UCU ballots is an act of solidarity. We will only win real change by speaking with one voice about the need for real action from employers. Every vote sends a message that we will not tolerate staff facing unmanageable workloads, an endless cycle of fixed-term contracts, or people having to choose between paying their rent or saving for their pension.
So whether you vote for yourself, for your friends and colleagues struggling with these issues today, or for the higher education staff of the future who deserve decent pay and pensions too, please make sure you vote.