Branch committee recommendation for ballot

In a set of briefings circulated last week the Cambridge UCU branch committee explained its reservations about voting either Yes or No in the current ballot on the UUK proposal for the USS pension scheme.

Our committee has sought assurances from UUK about an acceptable fallback, to apply in the event that the proposed Joint Expert Panel fails to agree recommendations, or its recommendations are not followed by USS. It is now clear that these assurances will not be forthcoming.

The committee therefore recommends a No vote.

The proposed panel stands outside the formal valuation process for USS, and the 2017 process will in any case probably be completed before the panel reports. The UUK proposal therefore offers little assurance about the future of our pensions after April 2019. This strike has been about our pensions, not just the valuation process, and we believe it is too risky to call off our industrial action while we still have no guarantees about the future of our pensions.

In our view, a national No vote should not be taken as a mandate for a ‘no detriment’ negotiating position. Despite Sally Hunt’s framing of the ballot, we believe our union’s strategy should be directed solely towards winning the best settlement possible for USS members. This might involve seeking to add a ‘no detriment’ clause to the UUK proposal, but it might be equally appropriate to demand other assurances about the pensions terms on offer or the workings of any Joint Expert Panel. In the view of the committee, the decision on which strategy to pursue should be considered separately from the question of whether the current proposal is enough.

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