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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
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
NEW: UniversititIes UK, the employer body for the UK university sector, said “We have not made misleading claims" about the impact of April 2022 pension cuts on members of the #USS.
UUK:"It's reasonable for us to conclude in headline terms - using the example personas developed by USS – that reductions in retirement benefits will be in range of 10-18%. We've consistently said members should use the USS modeller to check (their specific) possible impacts."
UUK says using a headline of 35 per cent cuts to #USS members' pensions - from the April 2022 benefit reforms - is potentially misleading and potentially damaging to members.
Read 4 tweets
71,000 UK university sector staff will lose £100k-£200k each from their pensions due to the impact of the latest pension cuts, according to a global academic analysis.

More follows:
196,000 active members of the #USS #pension scheme will see their future pensions cut by 30%-35% if Consumer Price Inflation (CPI) remains at its historic average of 2.5%, according to the first global analysis of the impact of the April 2022 #USS pension cuts, published in May.
But the impact of the April 2022 cuts is harshest on the under 40s, according to the academic analysis. Losses to their future pension range between £100-000 to £200,000. Image
Read 3 tweets
Our case to sue #USS directors and protect pensions has a judgment.

It’s pathbreaking: we won the right to sue *at all*.

But it’s defective: permission refused based on the 1843 case, Foss v Harbottle. We’ll look to appeal.

What did it say? /1 🧵
bailii.org/ew/cases/EWHC/…
First, our claims were the directors breached duties in the Companies Act 2006:

- a nonsense valuation, showing a £17.9 deficit, cutting benefits – by assuming assets grow 0.0% above CPI for 30 years. They grew 30% in 2 years. Directors cut anyway. /2
staff.admin.cam.ac.uk/new-uss-resear…
- the cuts cause a particular disadvantage to women, minorities and young people

It violates the Equality Act 2010 ss 19 and 61, exposing USS to a litany of discrimination claims /3
theguardian.com/education/2022…
Read 30 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
Why am I so angry about what happened at the @USSpensions JNC last week? Because the way #USS concluded the 2020 valuation was not in accordance with the scheme rules and undercut @UCU's influence on the JNC, possibly permanently. You need to know about this. 1/
The Joint Negotiating Committee is an oddity, unique among UK pension schemes. It was a hard-won concession extracted by the union during the formation of the scheme in the 1970s. If the misapplication of the rules by #USS is allowed to stand, I believe it is effectively dead. 2/
One of the key functions of the JNC is to grapple with the outcome of bad valuations, where it has to decide on benefit changes and/or contribution rate splits. #USS presents the JNC with a price, and negotiation begins. Or that's how it's supposed to work. 3/
Read 14 tweets
BREAKING: The #USS trustee board today agreed to proceed with controversial #pension cuts for tens of thousands of #university sector members, effective from April 2022.
#USS said: “The Valuation was signed off in September 2021. At the meeting today, the Trustee board agreed to the deed giving effect to the changes to the member benefits from April 2022 in the form recommended by the Joint Negotiating Committee.”
The USS trustee approved the #pension cuts today as a High Court judge in London gave the go-ahead for a legal challenge to the 2020 #USS valuation.

"The Trustee’s view remains that this claim is without merit," said USS, adding it had not yet puts its case to the Court yet.
Read 5 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
The segment in the @BBC feature below is taken from a longish interview @BBCChrisMorris recorded with me about #Russia #sanctions last week. I don’t blame journalists or producers but worth mentioning that perhaps due to editorial issues it omitted the following (see thread):
1) That I began by saying this was an opportune moment to discuss #sanctions against #Russia. I was on strike supporting #UCUStrikes and colleagues on precarious contracts and protesting against #USS pension cuts.
2) That I thought the Lincoln's Inn Fields backdrop of striking #UCUStrikes LSE campus was symbolic. Some of the things I said were:
Read 9 tweets
BREAKING: An industrial dispute over #pension cuts impacting thousands of university sector workers is set to escalate as employer-backed proposals to reduce guaranteed #pension benefits were ratified today.
BREAKING: The University and College Union (UCU) has told #USS university employers to expect more industrial action, including a marking and assessment boycott, after controversial cuts to guaranteed pension benefits were ratified.
NEW: UCU general secretary Jo Grady said University vice chancellors had today chosen to "steal tens of thousands from the retirement income of staff".

"This is a deplorable attack which our members won’t take lying down."
Read 4 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
🪧 #UCUstrike Thread 🪧

Wondering why staff across 68 universities are on strike?

@ucu #OneOfUsAllOfUs #FourFights #DigitalPicketLine #DigitalPicket

/1 Flyer describing the UCU (University and College Union) FourFlyer describing the UCU (University and College Union) Four
Read @ucu's Four Fights FAQ

ucu.org.uk/article/11818/…

/2
1. Fair Pay (including fair pensions):

Staff pay has dropped by over 17% in real-terms since 2009

ucu.org.uk/article/10342/…

/3
Read 24 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.

uss.co.uk/news-and-views…
Read 6 tweets
Suppose you run a pension scheme, and conducted a valuation in the middle of a pandemic which showed the need for savage cuts. How do you hide the fact that since then the scheme has strengthened dramatically? Here's how. #USSmess #USSstrike 1/ (Graph courtesy of @USSpensions)
1. Stop publishing data
@USSpensions were publishing monthly data, but stopped with their Aug 21 figures. Why? They say they were working on a new system.
We forced them to publish updates this week they planned on keeping to themselves until June. 2/ uss.co.uk/about-us/valua…
2. Explain away improvements with broad-brush arguments
"Assets have increased, but so have liabilities".
"Deficits are down, but future service costs are up".
"Higher asset prices mean lower expected returns".
Enough! Just show us the numbers! 3/ (Below @Barker4Kate in THE)
Read 10 tweets
Here's the @FT's @bethanstaton reporting a snap summary by @USSemployers of their constultation, saying responses indicate a "clear rejection of the @UCU proposals". It appears @UniversitiesUK's popaganda campaign to kill an attempt at a resolution succeeded. Great job! #USSmess
@FT @bethanstaton @USSEmployers @ucu @UniversitiesUK The #USS dispute is now well and truly on fire, as eyes turn towards the formal JNC meeting(s) next week. Higher Education disputes also ramp up, with more universities brought into the action over the fundmantal Four Fights dispute.
As for the behaviour of @AlistairJarvis's @UniversitiesUK, and their marshalling of opinion against the @UCU proposals, have they made employers aware of the precariousness of their position at the JNC? Smooth passage for the cuts should not be taken for granted. #USSmess
Read 6 tweets
Quick reminder of how @UniversitiesUK have tried to scupper our proposals:
- 26 Jan: "The union's proposal does not appear to be a serious attempt to reach agreement"
- 28 Jan: "We are awaiting confirmation from #USS that @UCU’s proposal is viable, implementable, & fully costed"
28 Jan (cont): "If we receive confirmation, we will formally consult employers on [UCU's proposals]"
2 Feb: "UUK is consulting employers for views on potentially modifying the proposal for concluding the 2020 #USS valuation" (but not UCU's proposals)
10 Feb: "Now we have received a costed proposal from UCU, we have formally asked employers whether they would wish to support it"
10 Feb: @MikeOtsuka writes to UUK about "serious misrepresentations of UCU’s proposals" in the launch of the consultation. mikeotsuka.medium.com/uuks-serious-m…
Read 8 tweets
We're hearing more reports of universities keen to engage with their @UCU branches on the substance of our proposals, and some responding positively despite @UniversitiesUK's best attempts to undermine our attempts at a resolution. 1/
Branches who need assistance in their discussion with management should feel free to contact the negotiation team. 2/
Unfortunately, @SheffieldUni management, who have previously boasted about our highly constructive #USS Working Group, are not engaging, symptomatic of the increasingly insular approach to decision-making by UEB most evident in the efforts to close @UniShefArch. 3/
Read 4 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

BUT

...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
❓ Have @USSpensions correctly followed the scheme rules in dealing with the 2020 valuation?

I'm not convinced they have, and see what they've done as having significantly biased the JNC process against @UCU and in favour of @UniversitiesUK.

Read on... 1/
I'm focussing on the 'Rule 76' process, which sets out how the JNC (made up of UCU & UUK reps, plus an independent chair) deals with the outcome of a valuation in which costs have increased. The process starts with the #USS laying out the increase. Or it should. 2/
Let's look at the 'Cost Sharing' rule, 64.10, referenced as part of the Rule 76 process. It sets out the rights of the JNC to determine a change in benefits or contribution rate splits between members and employers, with a 'cost-sharing' backstop for if the JNC does not agree. 3/
Read 11 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

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