USS Pension Proposal: Poll

Last night I saw the news on Twitter that negotiators on behalf of the Universities and Colleges Union (UCU) and the employers’ organisation Universities UK (UUK) under the auspices of the Advisory Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS) agreed a proposal to end the strike over pensions that has been going on since the end of February.

The text of the agreement can be found here (PDF). This proposal will have to be discussed and ratified formally, but the negotiators hope this can be do today and that the strike will be suspended from tomorrow.

The proposal suggests a transitional period of three years from April 2019 during which a much reduced Defined Benefit scheme will operate, but it still affirms the much disputed November 2017 valuation of the scheme which means that it is overwhelmingly likely that after three years the dispute will be back on.

I shall be leaving the USS scheme in July 2018 as I’m moving full-time to Ireland where I will be joining a Defined Benefit scheme so the changes outlined in the document will not affect me. Moreover, though I have supported the strike I am not a member of UCU. If I were I would not be in favour of accepting this deal because it seems to me that it amounts to an abject surrender on all the main issues. But given my personal situation I don’t think my opinion should carry much weight. The few friends I have discussed this with feel the same as I do, but I’m interested to know what the general opinion is. If you feel like filling in the poll below please feel free to do so. I’ve divided the responses between UCU members and non-UCU members to see if there’s a difference.

On one matter however I am less equivocal. The document calls on staff to `prioritise the rescheduling of teaching’ (lost during the strike). I have a one-word response to that: NO. Not only will it be logistically impossible to reschedule so many teaching sessions, but I am also not going to do extra teaching for free when my pay is being deducted for days on strike.

As usual, I invite your comments through the box below.

UPDATE: Here is a Google Document showing how UCU branches are responding to the proposal: at the time of posting, it is solidly `reject’..

UPDATE: Following on from the above, the UCU has now formally rejected the proposal. The strikes continue.

4 Responses to “USS Pension Proposal: Poll”

  1. I haven’t been following the details of the changes so it’s great having your blog summaries. If I understand correctly, one has two options when moving overseas after a UK academic position. Either you can stop paying contributions and then receive a USS pension based on how much one had contributed up to that point or you can transfer the pension to a QROPS approved pension overseas. Obviously, the recently proposed changes would not affect the pension in the latter case, but I was wondering if they would affect it in the former case?

    • Proposed changes only affect future accrual, so no it would not affect your USS. Previous accrual is protected by law (unless the company goes bust, in which case the government run PPF pays your pension. Though in that case it may not pay out 100%).

      Of course I am not a financial adviser, and you should always take professional advice before making decisions 😉

  2. “you can stop paying contributions and then receive a USS pension based on how much one had contributed up to that point”

    This is what many people do. Many people work for a while in several countries and get several small pensions.

    “or you can transfer the pension to a QROPS approved pension overseas”

    This also depends on where it is being transferred to. I think this is the rarer case.

    Note that sometimes the first applies, i.e. you get your pension paid out from where you paid in, but it is still worth registering it where you later work since the time can count toward some minimum time or whatever.

  3. Mark and Phillip, thanks for that extra info.

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