Our take on the latest deal


March 24, 2018

The UCU recently announced a new deal with UUK in the pension dispute. The headline is:

“The proposal will see the creation of a jointly agreed expert panel to agree key principles to underpin the future joint approach of UUK and UCU to the valuation of the USS fund. To allow this to happen, the current deal in terms of contributions into USS and pension benefits will remain in place until at least April 2019.”

This is a major change to how USS is managed. It is maintaining the status quo until April 2019 at the earliest. The valuation is no longer in the hands of the USS trustees or UUK. It puts the power in the hands of the Joint Expert Panel, which is a 50/50 split between UUK and UCU. We were told a return to status quo was impossible, so getting this far is a huge victory.

The wording of Sally Hunt’s statement clearly reflects the new-found strength of the rank and file in the union. Our first thoughts were that this was some kind of sell out. This is a reflection of the way the rank and file has been treated throughout the dispute. But this deal is different.

This strength has delivered victories even beyond this pensions dispute. Branches have been revitalised with new activists brought together through action.

We’re no longer taking below inflation pay rises - or as they should be correctly called: pay cuts. The pay claim this year is quite different now. The union is asking for 7.5% in national bargaining. While this still won’t make up for the 17% in lost pay since 2009, its definitely a start.

The employers are panicking. This is why we shouldn’t settle on the first serious offer. UUK, with the help of the UCU leadership, gave a ridiculous first offer. This is the first substantive offer so far, but we can get more.

So what do we do now? We agree with the IWGB that this offer should be rejected. As they remind us “never accept the first offer! They will go higher! Reject the deal!” We’re calling for members to reject the deal. Let’s learn from a union that has fought and won against universities.

This deal could be accepted with conditions. Why is there 50/50 split on the Joint Expert Panel? Why is the decision binding? We can get more from this, otherwise why give up fighting? This needs to be taken to each and every branch. If changes could be made to the deal we could vote yes.

Victory is in sight. Vote no for now and continue the fight!


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The Editors (@NotesFrom_Below)

The Editorial collective of Notes from Below.