UNISON has been consulting USS members across the UK on proposed changes to move to a defined contribution scheme.
UNISON’s Higher Education Service Group Executive met 19 March 2018 and considered the outcome of the branch consultation results as well as receiving information on other attacks to support staff pensions across higher education.
91% of members voted to reject the proposals and would be prepared to take part in strike action on a turnout above that required under the new legislation. Therefore the SGE unanimously agreed to recommend that USS members in universities where UCU have taken 14 days strike action should be balloted for industrial action where UNISON is able to demonstrate that we are likely to achieve over 50% turnout in that institution.
The turnout in the consultation has shown the strength of feeling on this issue. Members strongly believe that the valuation of the scheme deficit is flawed and that the proposals will provide them with a significantly reduced pension at the end of their working life. Our members are in professional support staff roles, including administrators, librarians, technicians as well as a number of cleaners, security staff and porters at the Open University and Stirling University.
However, the issue of pensions for support staff goes beyond the current dispute over changes to the USS Scheme. UNISON branches are seeing increasing attacks on standalone pension schemes and university employers looking at ways to avoid offering the LGPS to staff.
Further details on the ballot process and how branches not currently affected by the USS dispute can provide solidarity to colleagues as well as the need to defend pensions across higher education will be circulated to branches early next week and a news story will appear on UNISON’s website shortly.