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VC–UUK–USS fact checker

Published: 25th November, 2019

LUCU fact-checker assessmentComments
[USS] members voting ‘yes’ to strike action over pensions account for less than 10% of the scheme’s eligible membership.USS employers (Universities UK), reported in the Guardian, 25 November (The Guardian)Highly misleading50,071 UCU members were asked whether they were willing to take industrial action in defence of #USS pensions; 21,034 said yes. That’s 42%. Only 5,510 – 11% – said no. (USS gets its misleading figure by dividing number of ‘yes’ votes by total number of USS members, approx. 230,000 – but most of these were not balloted.)
‘UCU rejected the offer from UUK that employers would pay an additional 0.5% in order to reduce the employee contribution to 9.1%, the level recommended by JEP’University of Leicester VC, Nishan Canagarajah; email to all staff; Friday 22 NovemberMixture of false and highly misleadingUCU did indeed reject this offer, but the 9.1% contribution level is a red herring: it relates to the flawed and widely criticised 2017 valuation. If the JEP methodology is applied to 2018 data, then the appropriate contribution rate is 8%. The big issue is the valuation: get this right (and USS hasn’t) and both employers and employees pay less. It’s very disappointing Leicester’s VC hasn’t understood this.
‘I am unable to deliver UCU’s demand for a pay increase of RPI +3%, ie 5.1%. Very few universities could afford such an increase without a significant impact on their employment levels.’University of Leicester VC, Nishan Canagarajah; email to all staff; Friday 22 NovemberMisleadingThe ‘unaffordability’ of a 5.1% pay rise is the result of senior management decisions to spend money elsewhere, e.g. ongoing infrastructure spending of £500m over a decade. By contrast, implementing UCU’s pay claim would cost less than £10m a year.