Discover and read the best of Twitter Threads about #UCU

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Today at the @ucu branch briefing I asked the leadership if they plan to again rush a consultation, where union members only have 24h to talk to their delegates & 48h to vote about something they just learnt about.

This is what happened 🧵👇

I made the case that, BY DESIGN, this process engineers a democratic failure of local branches and of the grassroot as it precludes collective deliberation.

There is no time to talk to one another, to exchange information, and to make sense together of what is happening.
These deliberative spaces are basically what democracy is about so that seems like a big issue.
Read 9 tweets
NEW: Striking UK university staff have called for the reversal of cuts to their #USS pensions after new data showed the retirement scheme had moved to a £5 billion funding surplus.

More follows:
#UCU, the union representing higher eduction sector workers, said #pension cuts which came into force in April will see a typical lecturer lose 35% of their future guaranteed retirement income with losses steepest for those at the earliest stages of their careers.
UCU: "USS pension cuts were predicated on a valuation of the scheme conducted in March 2020 as markets collapsed. After recording a deficit of £14.1bn, the scheme has since recovered and according to this week’s monitoring report now holds a surplus of £5.6bn"
Read 4 tweets
NEW: The #USS pension scheme, at the centre of an industrial disupte involving thousands of higher education sector workers, showed a £5.6bn surplus at the end of August, according to the latest scheme monitoring update.
NEW: The #USS said that a deficit (£14bn) identified in the 2020 valuation, had been "eliminated" as of the end of August with the scheme showing a £5.6bn surplus.

The controversial 2020 scheme valuation led to a range of benefit cuts for tens of thousands of #USS members.
However, the #USS said market conditions had remained highly volatile since 31 March this year & as a result, the exact position of the Scheme at the end of September "cannot be established with any
certainty" with the most recent figures to be
viewed with a "degree of caution".
Read 4 tweets
Used my energy for the day visiting the nearest @ucu @aberdeen_ucu picket line with Dr Blinky in support of their ongoing #Strikes 👊🏻💪🏻

Sadly #royalmailstrikes had packed up by the time i was on my way back so i couldn't say hello👋🏻

#Solidarity #StrongerTogether #JoinAUnion 3 people, one man and 2 wom...
Got too excited seeing people, this 1 hour at a picket has been the most socialising and energetic thing ive done in 20 months. Already feeling the effects, but so nice to see folk and show solidarity to the first #union i ever joined (even though im no longer a member)
The work unions do benefit all of us. Employers want your labour, workers want to have a life outside of work.

If you like your holiday pay, sick pay, parental leave, maximum work hours, minimum wage, pensions, safety at work etc, then you support unions.
Read 5 tweets
Small note on the #UCUstrike. I'm not doing university teaching anymore, after 18 years. Why? Hourly pay has gone down from £40 per teaching hr in 2014 to £16 per contact hr in 2022. Contracts have gone down from 9 months to 10 weeks. 1 contact hour = 4-8 hrs work. #ucuRISING
The last undergraduate teaching I did, in 2021, was paid £1300 the semester for 2 courses, including writing 1 from scratch, all the reading prep, reading & commenting on student work every week, marking at the end (out of contract time, typically). It took up 2 days a week.#UCU
It was sucking up so much time & energy for so little pay, I was losing money. I can't afford to teach now. Hourly paid teaching when I 1st did it in 2004 seemed fair, at £38/hr. In 2012 at £38-40/hr it felt increasingly exploitative. In 2022 at £16/hr it is impossible. #UCU
Read 4 tweets
BREAKING: The #USS pension plan has reported a SURPLUS of £1.8bn - nearly 18 months after reporting a £14bn deficit.

The surplus is disclosed in the scheme's June monitoring report published today.

Details to follow
In an email today to university employers, Bill Galvin, group chief of the #USS pension plan said the June surplus "provides a basis from which to start discussions with our stakeholders and advisers about what options might be available should this position prove well-founded"
Galvin #USS chief, said if the #USS Trustee found, via the 2023 valuation, that the overall contribution requirement had indeed reduced, then the JNC "may be able to consider some element of reduction to contributions, enhancements to benefits, or a combination of the two".
Read 12 tweets
BREAKING: 68 universities in the UK face a further 5 days of strike action this month over #pension cuts and pay.
Staff at the 68 universities this week finished taking up to 10 days of strike action.

UCU, the union, said further strike action was called after employers "forced through pension cuts and refused to negotiate meaningfully over pay and working conditions.
UCU, the union, says preparations are also underway for for a marking and assessment boycott

All universities across the UK to be reballoted for potential action next term, the union added.
Read 17 tweets
The UUK 'strategic guide' on staff-student sexual misconduct is published today, during #UCU strike action which we are participating in.

We sat on the advisory group for developing this guidance. Here is our public statement. TL;DR we are disappointed.…
This guidance from Universities UK has been a long time coming. While there is some helpful and important material in the forthcoming practical guide, overall this guidance represents a missed opportunity.
It prioritises retaining the status quo over asking universities to make real change, and it is contradictory, by recommending clear professional boundaries while still allowing sexual relationships between staff and students.
Read 12 tweets
BREAKING: The UK High Court has over-turned a decision to deny legal action by academics against the #USS pension scheme over the handling of the controverisal #2020 valuation. #UCU #USS #UUK

Details follow.
The UK High Court set aside a previous court order and allowed a claim by 2 academics who are pursuing legal action against the #USS directors, as well as against the scheme’s chief executive, Bill Galvin, over the 'flawed' 2020 valuation.
Neil Davies of Bristol University and Ewan McGaughey, of KCL, argued USS directors acted in breach of their duties in conducting “a flawed valuation and predicting a so-called ‘deficit’ as well as proposed cuts that will disproportionately impact women, minorities & young people.
Read 10 tweets
BREAKING: The Universities Superannuation Scheme Joint Negotiating Committee has today formally voted to implement cuts to future #pension benefits for tens of thousands of UK university sector staff.
The JNC - a body which represents #USS employers and members - passed a controversial package of employer proposals which will see members build smaller pensions in future. The cuts are the focus of current industrial action across dozens of university campuses.
I am awaiting confirmation of the JNC vote, and whether the chair cast her vote. #USS
Read 12 tweets
NEW: The deficit at the UK's largest private-sector pension scheme, the #USS, has been slashed from £14bn in March 2020, to £2.9bn at the end of January this year, as the schemne's assets recovered to pre-pandemic levels. #UUK #UCU

More follows.
A funding update released by the #USS showed the scheme's funding ratio - or plan's assets as a percentage of liabilities - had grown to 97% at the end of January this year from 83% in March 2020 - the timing of the scheme's last formal health check.
#USS published this update on February 16, the day before a Feb 17 deadline for hundreds of employers to respond to a consultation on cuts to #pension benefits, which were based on the scheme's position in March 2020, when its finances were less rosy.…
Read 6 tweets
🧵Thought I’d curate all of my weary sighing replies to those who don’t approve of the @UCU strikes here in one handy place. #OneOfUsAllOfUs #UCUstrike ⬇️
“Lazy! Academics hardly do any work anyway”
a) Not only do we regularly pull 40+ hours a week, our work has increased in the pandemic as we “pivoted” (god, that word) to blended teaching.
b) if we hardly do any work, how come you think this strike is disruptive to students? 🧐
“They have all those long holidays”
No, at my institution our holiday allowance is 27 days plus bank holidays and college closures. This isn’t school. We aren’t shut outside term time. And we don’t just teach.
Read 14 tweets
Quick summary of today's key development in the #USS #pension dispute.

#USS said the #UCU compromise proposal - to avert strike action - was 'operationally' viable


...contributions for members and employers would need to rise, over time, to 13.9% and 29.1% respectively.
#UUK has today launched a consultation with all #USS employers on #UCU’s formal proposal, after receiving costings from #USS.

Under UCU’s proposal, eer contributions wd gradually rise from 21.4% of salary to 29.1% by April 2024. Members rise from 9.8% to 13.9% over same period
In its consultation #UUK will ask employers if they will pay an additional c£200 million annually from April 2022, and an extra £330 million from this Oct and ultimately c£700 million more each year from April 2024 – on top of the current USS pensions cost of around £2bn per year
Read 4 tweets
BREAKING: A potentially significant development today in the UK university #pension disupte.

#UCU says compromise pension proposals - put forward by the union to avert strike action - have been deemed "both viable and implementable" by the #USS pension plan.

More follows:
#UCU submitted alternative #pension proposals to #UUK employers on Wednesday 26 January in a bid to avert industrial action over #pension cuts they had proposed.

Industrial action was due to begin at 44 universities on Monday 14 February.
#UCU said, that after working together with UCU, the #USS Trustee had confirmed the union’s compromise #pension proposals "are both viable and implementable."

Jo Grady, #UCU gen sec, has written to Alistair Jarvis, chief exec of #UUK, urging him to urgently consult employers.
Read 13 tweets
BREAKING: The #USS pension scheme has today agreed to take forward proposals that will lead to #pension cuts for hundreds of thousands of university sector workers.

Statement from the #USS trustee to follow:
The USS trustee today confirmed that subject to a two-week consultation with UUK – #USS members will contribute 9.8% of salary from 1 October 2021 and employers will pay 21.4%.

That is an increase of 0.2% and 0.3% respectively on current rates.
From 1 April 2022, the way future #USS benefits are built up is also set to change said the #USS.
Under the JNC’s resolution, DB pensions promised to members in future will build at a slower rate. DC benefits will be offered in respect of salary over £40,000 (currently £59,883)
Read 13 tweets
NEW: The UK government has issued a statement on the prospect of industrial action on University campuses over cuts to staff pensions. #USS #UCU #UUK

The statement comes ahead of a mass meeting of university union members this afternoon to discuss industrial action.
A Department for Education spokesperson said:

“While government has no direct role in the #USS pension, we strongly encourage all sides to reach an agreement that delivers good value for students, staff, and providers so that the prospect of industrial action can be avoided”
The Dept for Education added that higher education providers that offer the #USS pension are autonomous and responsible for the pension provision offered to their staff.
Read 4 tweets
NEW:University employers say they will still consider "alternative benefit structures and formulations", provided they are "viable, affordable & implementable".

The statement comes after the UK university sector union warned industrial action over pension cuts was "inevitable" Image
NEW: Proposed cuts to pension benefits for hundreds of thousands of UK university sector staff will see a worker earning under £40k p/a with 12% less retirement income, according to UUK, the university employer body.

This estimate assumed inflation does not rise above 2.5%.
UUK says the alternative to its pension proposal may see members subjected to steep increases in their #pension contribution rates from 13.6% and 18.6% of salary (compared with 9.6% now) – which would hit take-home pay and may price many out of the scheme.
Read 6 tweets
when it comes to engaging #STEM #academics (an essential task in order to gain max momentum to tackle problems like #casualisation), i think 1 difficulty is that #activism uses a lot of logical fallacies. this makes taking action appear irrational 1/15

#AcademicChatter #ucu
people going on #strike = potential bandwagon fallacy

stories of injustice = anecdote, appeal to emotion

statistics = potentially cherry picked

calling out management = potential ad hominem

quoting/critiquing management = potential strawman
identifying an issue (e.g. casualisation) and claiming it impacts other issues (e.g. mental health problems) = potential false cause, and/or hasty generalisation fallacy

making broad statements (e.g. gender pay gap is a real problem) = ambiguity fallacy
Read 15 tweets
I learned something today that has made me so angry that I am coming out of my Twitter holiday to share it. #NECcoup
The #UCU faction that lost March's UCU National Executive Committee elections are organising an #NECcoup so that they can keep their control of #UCU's most powerful committees, and are using the #covid19 pandemic to justify it.
The motion posted below is being submitted to #NEC meeting to be held next Friday. It proposes that “NEC is extended to include current and incoming elected members” & that ‘Current NEC members will have full speaking and voting rights on the NEC’.
Read 14 tweets
BREAKING: The £67bn #USS pension scheme will in March launch a discussion paper on changes to the way it values its liabilities.

The scheme is at the centre of a pensions dispute between university workers and employers over contribution hikes, demanded by #USS.
The #USS trustee has been reviewing the methodology approach for the 2020 Valuation since the summer and has been in discussions with #UCU and #UUK over potential changes.
#USS said the the review of its valuation methodology has been "wide-ranging" and has considered aspects of the methodology that were proposed by the stakeholder’s Joint Expert Panel, including dual discount rates.
Read 6 tweets
Sobre el debate del tren maya destacó @yasnayae que explicó inconsistencias de la consulta, @jkoyocku expuso limitaciones de la representatividad de los comisariados, @EzerMay detalló diversidad de formas de representación incluídas las AC’s y @lhan55 denunció el despojo
@yasnayae @jkoyocku @EzerMay @lhan55 La desinformación es una táctica siempre usada para imponer megaproyectos, hoy no es distinto, el tren del despojo avanza a toda máquina en la Península de Yucatán, donde persisten 52 juicios agrarios de nulidad de actas de asambleas fraudulentas que afectan a los pueblos mayas
“Los conflictos por la tierra en Yucatán no se resuelven, se arrastran a través de los años y los gobiernos generando animadversiones y rencores en las comunidades ejidales, a veces irreconciliables que se convierten en fracturas desestabilizadoras”…
Read 15 tweets
University colleagues in the UK and abroad!

The IEL Collective supports the @UCU strike!

*8 REASONS* why – from an IEL Collective – everyone should support industrial actions in the Higher Edu. sector: HERE, THERE, and EVERYWHERE! (1/11) @ucu @USSbriefs @UniversitiesUK
In *The IEL Collective* we think about the international economic legal order in an expansive, contextual and critical way. The present is not the limit. (2/11) #IELCollective
1)Knowledge production is increasingly dominated by global market logics. 3/11) #IELCollective
Read 11 tweets
Thread: Lots of the reasons for striking focus on students & teaching. This is important. But there are university workers doing lots of other important work, including research. 68% of researchers are on fixed-term contracts, many for 1 or 2 years & it's hard-going... #UCUstrike
1. You do the research job that is in the job outline, but on top of that you MUST also do a number of things to get a new job. Just doing the job listed in the description (even if you're a legend at it) does not get you a renewal or a new contract/project at the end #UCUstrikes
2. You must work on publications, lots of them. Some linked to your current research project, former PhD or the multitude of research projects you've worked on before. That is, just because your research contract finishes on a project, doesn't meant the project work finishes.
Read 12 tweets
BREAKING: Professor Jane Hutton, #USS whistleblower, has been fired from her role as non-executive director of the #USS trustee board.

More to follow.
On the sacking of Jane Hutton from the #USS Board, here's what I understand:

- Sir David Eastwood, chair of the #USS trustee board, conveyed news to Prof Hutton today;
- "Material breaches of obligations" cited as reason for her role as non-exec director being terminated.
- The decision to sack Prof Hutton was made by #USS trustee board and was unanimous. The board is made up of university employer & union representatives.
Prof Hutton was appointed to the board by the University and College Union.
Read 23 tweets

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