These two motions were passed at yesterday's well-attended branch meeting. The first motion was passed with one abstention while the second motion was passed unanimously.
1. SOAS UCU pensions motion
Branch meeting 12/11/2014
SOAS UCU notes that:
1) That USS have proposed reforms to pensions benefits that are severely detrimental to employees.
2) UCU negotiators have tabled a counter proposal to the employers and USS on proposed changes to the USS pension scheme.
3) This counter proposal abandons a number of positions previously held by the UCU, including the need to challenge the basis for cuts to pensions (the flawed valuation methodology used by USS) and the aim of achieving parity with the Teachers' Pension Scheme.
4) In response to the assessment boycott a number of universities have decided to take the disproportionate and intimidating approach of announcing 100% pay docking for union members.
5) UCU policy states that “members should be informed that should an employer implement punitive deductions this will result in a national response and the calling of national strike action”.
SOAS UCU believes that our negotiators must stick to the following principles:
1) That the funding requirements and valuation methodology for USS should be challenged, not just in the abstract but concretely as part of negotiations.
2) That the scheme should remain entirely Defined Benefit, with no hybrid scheme and no cap, thus maintaining the principle of risk sharing.
3) That pensions are our deferred pay and they should be increased, not cut. This may mean higher employer contributions and higher accrual rates.
4) That we need to return to a single scheme. This should be done by merging the current CRB and FS schemes into a new scheme that achieves parity with the Teachers' Pension Scheme by introducing graduated contributions for the higher paid.
SOAS UCU calls:
1) For UCU negotiators to withdraw their counter proposal on pensions until strategy in this dispute has been reviewed and the results of industrial action can be evaluated, preferably by a special HE sector conference of the union.
2) For all members at SOAS to observe the assessment boycott and build solidarity for universities where members are being threatened with pay docking.
3) For all staff to provide support for fractional staff who will be crucial to the implementation of the boycott at SOAS.
4) For the UCU to carry out its stated policy and call national strike action in response to 100% pay docking.
2. Motion on a special HE sector conference
Branch meeting 12/11/2014
This UCU branch supports the call for the requisition of a Special HE Sector Confernce to debate the campaigns to defend pensions in HE, and to defend the capacity of the UCU to call industrial action short of a strike as part of those campaigns.