Defend USS - the USS pensions dispute
Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) is the principal pension scheme provided by Universities, Higher Education and other associated institutions for their employees.
UCU are in industrial dispute with our employers over imposed changes to USS benefits, though industrial action is currently suspended pending the outcome of negotiations.
Consultation (February 2013)
UCU members and non-members who are in USS are warmly invited to participate in the discussion and survey about the future UCU approach towards USS negotiations.
- 21 September 2012. The University has now been advised that the work to contract dispute over USS will be suspended with effect from Wednesday 26th October. But please note that the special sector conference motions explicitly guaranteed that the return to normal working does not imply we are willing to work excessive hours. We have a locally negotiated workload protection agreement at Bristol.
- 13 September 2012. A special sector conference of pre-92 branches and local associations has voted to seek to return to negotiations with the employers to resolve the USS dispute. If the employers agree to further talks then the UCU will again suspend the current industrial action (work-to-contract) while serious and constructive negotiations are taking place. Branches will be informed of further developments, especially concerning any formal suspension of the work-to-contract.
- 17 July 2012. We had already negotiated a 12-month extension to the right of people over 55 (or 50 in some cases) to take unreduced pension benefits if made redundant. In response to the resumption of our industrial action in June, the employers had refused to support the implementation of this agreement through the USS Joint Negotiating Committee. However, presumably in an attempt to demonstrate some even-handedness, Sir Andrew Cubie, the Chair of the JNC, voted with the UCU representatives. The extension to this benefit to October 2014 is now in place.
- Local press coverage of the 30 November Day of Action.
- Bristol University lecturers start work to rule action (11 October 2011)
Our national employers' representatives have imposed an inferior, two tier USS pension system which will see new starters receive much lower benefits; reduce protection of our pensions against inflation and reduce the amount staff receive if they are made redundant.
The proposals have been opposed by USS members in two referendums, and by UCU members in two industrial action ballots, but the employers have insisted on imposing them (history of this dispute). We suspended our working to contract in February 2012 in the hope of meaningful talks with the employers, but the talks so far have failed to deliver any concrete proposals to improve the changes imposed (on existing members and a much worse scheme for new entrants) and at present the Teachers Pension Scheme (TPS) is still far superior to what is being offered to our members. As such the UCU has called for a return to working to contract to further empower our negotiators. For technical details of the comparison of USS and TPC see the appendices to UCUHE/154 (PDF).
More about the USS changes >>> including facts and figures on what USS members stand to lose as the result of these changes.
Industrial action (work to contract) is currently suspended pending the outcome of negotiations. Please note that the special sector conference motions explicitly guaranteed that the return to normal working does not imply we are willing to work excessive hours. We have a locally negotiated workload protection agreement at Bristol.
defenduss.web.ucu.org.uk our national UCU action website.
Our members in Bristol are suspending working to contract from Wednesday 23 September.
More about the industrial action >>> including how to ask a question.
Local UCU pages
- More about the USS changes, including the potential cost to you
- More about the industrial action, including local questions and how to ask a question
- 30 November Day of Action - local and national press coverage
- UCUHE/155 (PDF). National USS Dispute - Notice of resumption of industrial action served on employers on 12 June 2012.
- UCUHE/154 (PDF). HEC Superannuation Working Group report to sector conference, including appendices comparing USS to TPS (Teachers' Pension Scheme)
- UCUHE/132 (PDF). This circular informs on the outcome of the USS pre-92 conference held on 31 January, which debated the report of the negotiators. There is also a report from Bristol delegates.
- UCUHE/131A (PDF): Motions and amendments for the conference of pre-92 branches on USS
- UCUHE/129 (PDF): USS report and motion for the conference of pre-92 branches on USS on 31 January 2012.
- Working to contract and working to rule (PDF, 85Kb) - guidance for UCU branches and members
- USS pension dispute briefing - including estimates of the pension loss you face and the ballot results
- Defend USS: Members' Briefing, June 2011 (PDF, 62Kb) - what negotiations so far have achieved, what further we need to press for
- Alan Carr, national negotiator, talking to Bristol UCU on 27 August 2011 (mp3 audio, 28 Mb, 1 hour): available to UCU members from email@example.com
- USS valuation: UCU briefing note (PDF) and General Secretary's letter to USS Board (PDF)
- 30 November briefing - USS Pensions: some myths exploded (PDF)
National UCU resources
- Defend USS - your one-stop-shop for this action
- UCU national website - top stories and all things UCU
- Defend your USS pension rights - history of the USS negotiations
- UCU member communications - including archive of weekly campaign updates and national (Sally) emails
- Other UCU pension campaigns (including Teachers' Pension Scheme for post-92 institutions)
- 30 November - defend public sector pensions and Action 2011 Live!
- Joint union booklet on public sector pensions (PDF, 878Kb)
- TUC campaign for Pensions Justice and Day of Action on 30 November
- False Economy - activities and events in support of 30 November
Note: some of the documents on this webpage are in PDF format. In order to view a PDF you will need Adobe Acrobat Reader