Wednesday, 14 March 2018

UCU Strike - Update

Our colleagues at UCU have just announced that they have rejected the proposals made by Universities UK’s (UUK) to amend the changes to the USS Pension Scheme and the strike remains on.

UNISON Senate House Branch supports UCU’s fight against these changes, which will leave the scheme’s members significantly worse off in retirement. We are pleased to report that we have submitted the results of our consultative ballot to the National Officer and our national Service Group Executive will be considering the results and our next steps on Monday. The results of our ballot are overwhelmingly to reject the UUK proposals.

As previously advised, although non-UCU members are not protected by Industrial Action legislation, the University have confirmed that they will not discipline non-UCU members who choose not to cross the picket line, although you would lose a day’s pay. We are proud to support our sister union and of our members who have chosen to do so by not crossing the picket line.

Regardless of whether or not you are refusing to cross the picket line, or are in USS, SAUL or another scheme, the UNISON Senate House Branch are calling on all members to show solidarity and support to our UCU colleagues. This Wednesday 14 March and Thursday 15 March, we ask you to come down to the UCU picket line on Malet Street either before work or during your break (i.e non-working hours to prevent deduction of pay), anytime from 8.30am to 10.30am to support your colleagues and showing them that they are not alone! Join us on the UCU picket line on the Malet Street entrance to Senate House to show solidarity.

Wednesday, 7 March 2018

UCU Strike – Open Letter from UNISON Senate House Branch to University of London Vice-Chancellor, Professor Sir Adrian Smith

Dear Vice Chancellor and esteemed colleagues,

We are writing this letter on behalf of the UNISON branch committee at Senate House, University of London to support the UCU Senate House Branch in seeking a public expression of the University’s position on the current UUK and UCU dispute about the USS pension scheme.

We note the Vice-Chancellor's recent announcement on SharePoint welcoming the talks between UCU and UUK. However, we feel this statement doesn’t address the points UCU raised in their open letter to you on 1 March 2018.

We would like to support UCU in requesting that the University circulate a further message to all staff declaring the following points:
  1. That September 2017’s valuation is revisited and that independent and external opinion is sought, including from the academic community. This is to ensure that UCU and UUK can negotiate on the basis of an agreed foundation of evidence, including financial assumptions.
  2. That the planned USS member consultation (due to commence 19 March 2018) is suspended while a valuation on which both parties agree is established.
  3. That the outcome to this dispute retains defined benefit as the predominant model for USS pensions.
As UCU have entered a further nine days of strike action commencing yesterday, Monday 5 March 2018, we request an urgent response to this matter.

Yours sincerely,

Franco Henwood
Branch Chair, UNISON Senate House Branch
Ruth Buckingham
Branch Secretary, UNISON Senate House Branch

Friday, 2 March 2018

Solidarity with UCU Senate House Branch

Dear member,

As you know, our colleagues at UCU Senate House are striking against Universities UK’s (UUK) proposed changes to the USS pension scheme.

UNISON Senate House Branch supports UCU’s fight against these changes, which will leave the scheme’s members significantly worse off in retirement.

A consultative ballot is currently underway among all UNISON Higher Education Members on USS; UNISON is urging USS members to vote to reject the current proposals and move to an Industrial Action Ballot and join their UCU colleagues on strike.

Even if you are not in the USS pension scheme, you should care about the outcome of this strike. If UCU loses their fight, then this is bad news. The ending of USS as a defined-benefit scheme may have implications for the longer-term survival of other defined-benefit schemes like SAUL.

What can you do?

As we have stated, the university have confirmed that any UNISON member who refuses to work on a UCU strike day will lose a day’s pay but will not suffer any other penalty (e.g. a disciplinary). No UNISON member is obliged to cross a picket line.

And/or, you can also do the following;

  1. Write to the UoL Vice-Chancellor, Adrian Smith   and state your opposition to both the changes and your support for UCU. Urge him to join VCs at NewcastleEssex and other universities who have urged UUK to consider. Ask him to engage with UCU’s constructive proposals.You can find a template text here.

  1. Write to your MP. Many MPs have already come out in support. UCU have a handy template which you can find here:

  1. Donate to UCU’s finding fund. Our colleagues are going out of pocket to defend their (your) rights. Chip in what you can, here

We will keep members posted as to the outcome of the consultative ballot and what steps UNISON is going to take.

As ever, any queries or questions, then please direct them to

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