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Waiting to hear the results of the @ucu #USSballot

#USSvote #USSstrike
In #USSballot, I predict an equivocal result. Neither a robust rejection, nor an unqualified acceptance. Somewhere between 60/40 and 40/60. Maybe even 52/48. 🙄

For those interested, here's the preference in the respondents to the #USSvote survey...

#USSstrike @leedsucu
Once the results come out, I can re-weight these to be more accurate. But some interesting trends are apparent in terms of predictors of #USSballot preference

Look at the differences by Twitter use and awareness of #USSbriefs!

#USSstrikes #USSvote
Read 10 tweets
"The great strike 2018" session at #AAG2018 IS OPEN! When I can I'll tweet here. Follow the hashtag #NotAllGeographers
speaking about what happened on social media during #USSstrikes via 3 slices. Slice one: EARLY
Early phase involved repugnance with neoliberal VC's & development of #notallgeographers hashtag. Complex psychosocial movement positioning certain VCs as neoliberal beast.
Read 34 tweets
.@TPRgovuk published its annual funding statement for DB pension scheme valuations today. There are some interesting nuggets relevant to #ussstrikes [thread] thepensionsregulator.gov.uk/press/trustees…
The Director of Regulatory Policy said "Trustees should negotiate robustly with the sponsoring employer to secure a fair deal for the pension scheme, while employers should balance the interests of pension savers with returns to shareholders and investors....
... We are working more closely than ever with trustees to support them in this process". So, USS should be negotiating with @UniversitiesUK to provide the best deal for scheme members. USS should be looking after our interests. Are they?
Read 15 tweets
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I am disturbed by the notion that the USS ballot debate has been framed as one between polarized identity camps in the union. No good ever comes of identity-based disputes. 1/9 #USSballot #ussstrike #ussstrikes #nocapitualtion
It would seem that we are being asked to vote because our individual perspectives should have some weight. And thus, it should matter that some of us have calculated that we *simply cannot live in retirement* on what they are offering. 2/9
Nor did we sign up to be impoverished in retirement when we took our jobs - we were offered terms that have already been reduced twice, in 2011 and in 2014. Each time we were told that would be the last change to the scheme. Each time that was a lie. So we struck now. 3/9
Read 9 tweets
Unhappy about proposed #USS pension cut?

Not convinced current #UUK offer protects you from significant & long term pension cuts. What if I told you that it's not the only cut your #USS pension has experienced 👇👇👇 #USSstrikes
Cut 1: Employer pension contribution holidays

Between 1983-1997, employers cut their contributions from 18.55% to 14%, resulting in an estimated £7 billion being lost from the value of the fund.
Cut 2: Closure of USS as a final salary (FS) scheme

By closing FS scheme in 2015, & moving members into a lower value DB scheme, it is estimated the value of a #USS pension was cut by 20% on average.
Read 5 tweets
It is becoming clearer and clearer that all feedbacks from votes from union branches show demands for substantial amendments to the proposal (ranging for asking institutional guarantees with TPR/USS to a full #NoDetriment clause). I of course fully agree with these demands. 1/9
However pls do not get distracted from the real shit that is happening in the backstage: an intentionally vague proposal has been written by UUK (never discussed by the union negociators who saw it 1h before) and released unilaterally last Friday evening. 2/9
It was then backed up immediately by Sally Hunt, with no guarantees in this proposal AND with the trick of pushing for an e-ballot to the members on this very text. The whole trap is here. 3/9
Read 12 tweets
I'm worried about the future of my employer, @OpenUniversity, under its Vice-Chancellor, @PeterHorrocks.

Part one of a series of posts explaining why I think there's about to be another crisis in UK HE. 1/x
The most important alarm bell: HoC Education SC, Feb 21st 2018, @PeterHorrocks answers a question about his salary, justifying it thus: "We are going to have to carry out the largest restructuring redundancy programme ever in UK university history" 2/x
parliament.uk/business/commi…
This announcement by @PeterHorrocks didn't surprise me (though the salary context did) because he'd already said to the Guardian in Nov 2017 that he was planning "many, many hundreds of job losses in the university". 3/x
theguardian.com/higher-educati…
Read 39 tweets
OK, here goes.

My current "What happened around pensions, USS & UUK in 2015?" folder. [This follows on from: threadreaderapp.com/thread/9731361…].

Same aim as the one from 2014: to serve the #ucustrike #ussstrike. Please distribute / send additions / corrections.
First, I need to add a couple of missing things to the 2014 timeline. I was trying to find Imperial College London’s response to UUK on USS’s consultation, but the link on their website no longer works. But it has been stored elsewhere. #ucustrike #ussstrikes
25 Nov 2014 [from doc properties] "Imperial College London’s response to UUK on USS’s consultation" warwick.ac.uk/fac/sci/statis…. They strongly question the assumptions within the model, & argue for greater transparency #ussstrikes #ucustrike Screen shot of page one of document linked to in the tweet
Read 86 tweets
A long and possibly fruitless thread here on HEFCE’s 2007-2010 funding of 3 projects for the Employers Pension Forum. These were focused on developing a 10 year strategy for reform of pensions in the higher education sector #USSstrikes #NoCapitulation
Much of this is well-known, particularly the letter wrote by UCU Head of Higher Education, Michael MacNeil in summer 2010, to Alan Langlands (then Chief Exec at HEFCE) expressing concern about the one-sided nature of these EPF projects timeshighereducation.com/news/pension-r…
It was felt by UCU that these projects allowed the EPF to, amongst other things, develop a PR offensive which impacted upon the 2010 pension reform negotiations (resulting in the introduction of a career average pension scheme) ucu.org.uk/article/4739/C…
Read 21 tweets
Here's a THREAD on the #USS Trustees, powerful individuals whose role has been insufficiently examined, and who have been operating without the full benefits of public scrutiny.

#USSstrikes #USSstrike #WeAreTheUniversity #StrikeForUSS #DemocratiseUSS #DemocratizeUSS

👇👇👇
As the #USS dispute goes on, it's clearer than ever that the institutions that govern our pensions have been failing us in multiple ways. They are secretive, non-transparent, marked by conflicts of interest and revolving doors. We need to open up and #DemocratizeUSS.
Of the 5 “independent” Trustees of #USS, 4 have a background working for investment and financial services companies, the 5th used to work for Rio Tinto, the mining company, running their gold mines in Papua New Guinea.

Let's have a look at them.
👇👇👇
Read 33 tweets
"The present organisation, @UniversitiesUK, originated in the 19th century when there were informal meetings involving VCs"

@warwickuni holds *967* boxes of the Committee of Vice-Chancellors & Principals (1890-2004) mrc-catalogue.warwick.ac.uk/records/CVC
#justchecking
#ussstrikes #ucustrikes
1 Dec 2000: Committee of Vice Chancellors & Principals (CVCP) becomes Universities UK.

"University chiefs want to get rid of their "men in grey suits" image – & their representatives have re-launched with a new name and identity" news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/education…

#ucustrike #ussstrikes Screen shot of BBC article referenced in the tweet
"Universities UK – who does it represent & what does it do?", GR Evans, Council for the Defence of British Universities, March 12, 2018 cdbu.org.uk/universities-u…
#ucustrike #USSstrikes
Read 4 tweets
This looks like good news from @TPRgovuk, opening the door to a #USS deal on the basis of the Sept 2017 valuation involved in the initial @UCU recovery plan, if only the remaining hold-out VCs will accept this. 1/x
But we should in any case beware one kind of mistake which comes from treating @TPRgovuk as some unmovable exogenous constraint on a #USS deal. (1) The #tPR view itself is in part a function of VC’s avowed positions on risk levels. 2/x
And, (2) as @AdamJTucker has pointed out, there is a good degree of flexibility in how @TPRgovuk operates, and its regulatory framework allows space for appropriate intervention from the government. See embedded thread:



3/x
Read 19 tweets
How did universities communicate -- and how are they communicating now -- in relation to the #USS pension crisis? Many communications are held within the university's intranet #USSStrikes #ucustrike
University of York recent pension communications: much is for the university's own staff only (incl. the VC's message to staff on 31 January 2018): york.ac.uk/admin/hr/news/… #ussstrikes #ucustrike
University of Exeter recent pension communications: much is for the university's own staff only (incl. Q&A session on 10 Jan 2018 by Chief Financial Officer [& someone else] search.exeter.ac.uk/s/search.html?… #ussstrikes #ucustrike
Read 6 tweets
#UUK is an organisation that appears to struggle with:
1. Locating anything but the most stock of stock photographs #USSstrikes
#UUK is an organisation that appears to struggle with:
2. Removing the watermarks from no-longer(?) confidential documents
universitiesuk.ac.uk/policy-and-ana… #USSStrikes
#UUK is an organisation that appears to struggle with:
3. Whether to care about leaving author details in document properties
employerspensionsforum.co.uk/sites/default/… (Employers Pension Forum)
#USSStrikes
Read 7 tweets
19 September 2014: Here are slides from presentation "USS Update – AHUA Conference, 19 Sept. 2014". AHUA is the representative body for senior University managers in UK & Ireland. As far as I can see, the AHUA does not go back to conferences before 2016 ahua.ac.uk/event-type/con…
USS Update – AHUA Conference, 19 Sept. 2014:

Here is the 5th slide. Notice the Employers Pensions Forum footer. The slide is titled UUK response to USS. Benefit package should include re-defining the salary linkage for past service<br />
final salary benefits.<br />
• Majority of institutions would prefer to focus primarily on extending CRB for<br />
all<br />
• Leave potentially more radical changes for a later date.<br />
• A significant minority favour more radical action sooner.
USS Update – AHUA Conference, 19 Sept. 2014. (Not available on the AHUA website)

Here is the 6th slide. Benefit Changes<br />
Redefine final salary a “given”?<br />
CRB for all, or more radical<br />
solution?
Read 7 tweets
Over the weekend, I have been fixated on trying to understand all that happened in 2014 as key to the current (2018) university pensions crisis #ucustrike #ussstrike. An earlier thread is attached below. #ucustrike #ussstrikes
When I'm not on strike, I usually research by piecing together published, archival & grey literatures to build up a rich tapestry through which to get a grip on shifting phenomena. How do 'objects' & phenomena gain consistency & tractability? How do they change in form?
So here are some of the things (official lit, grey literatures, weblinks, newspaper/magazine articles etc.) that are currently in my "What happened around pensions, USS & UUK in 2014?" folder #ucustrike #ussstrikes
Read 114 tweets
Today's reading: getting to grips w recent history of UUK, particularly in relation to 2014 consultation on USS funding. Placing these public links on Twitter for others to read, digest & use as we piece together last few years.
Too tired to comment today. #ucustrike #USsstrikes
UUK's response (2 December 2014) to USS consultation document on 2014 Actuarial Valuation (October 2014). Document provides glimpse of how UUK, working with their advisers Aon Hewitt, was thinking at the end of 2014 employerspensionsforum.co.uk/sites/default/…
I am now slowly reading through the university (& college) responses to the 2014 UUK USS valuation consultations -- only possible because of all @nm_davies's amazing FOI work. (Search under 2014 AND USS & UUK here whatdotheyknow.com) #ucustrike #ussstrike
Read 14 tweets
The #USSstrike has got many people thinking for the first time about pension governance, and about the agenda for overhauling the pension system that the left is going to have to pursue in the years ahead. Here's a thread with some useful reading.

#USS #StrikeforUSS #USSstrikes
Great post by @ewanmcg on @LSEpoliticsblog on the context of the #USS strike, issues in #USS governance, and the rent-extraction of financial intermediaries.

blogs.lse.ac.uk/politicsandpol…
And an excellent piece by Christine Berry @oeufling for @openDemocracy @openDemocracyUK on the "hot mess" of the UK pension system and the iniquities of how financial intermediaries are taking us all for a ride:

opendemocracy.net/.../uss-tip-ic…
Read 12 tweets
I am still following UUK, Employers Pension Forum (ucea.ac.uk/en/empres/pens…), Aon around. Still fascinated by how futures are made. #ucustrike #USSstrike
This time I'll excerpt from 2 documents stored on the UUK website: universitiesuk.ac.uk/policy-and-ana… & universitiesuk.ac.uk/policy-and-ana… NB Both still carry a 'confidential' watermark, but there isn't any firewall #ucustrike #ussstrike
We know from recent events that UUK isn't always the most technologically proficient. Maybe they forgot to take the watermark off. Maybe they forgot to put them behind the firewall. Who knows. #ussstrike #ucustrike
Read 29 tweets
Back to the complex links between gov policy, consultants, pension plans -- & the making of worlds & futures.

Or: where my trawl through parliamentary committees has taken me today & how it bears on current @ucu & @UniversitiesUK negotiations #ucustrikes #USSstrikes
See @ucu's list of things it wants to work with employers on, particularly what is in the orange rectangle #USSstrikes #ucustrike ucu.org.uk/article/9364/F…
Aon Hewitt -- the consultancy Universities UK has been working with since at least 2007 -- has been pushing CDCs (or 'defined aspiration'/'defined ambition') [wow, the language] in its engagements with government at least since 2012 publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201213/cm… #USSstrikes #ucustrike
Read 20 tweets
Some more on the complex relationships between pension consultants & government pension reform. I'm putting these on to Twitter so that those more expert than I on this topic can use, reflect, comment (cc @FrenchShaun @ewanmcg @gailfdavies @CLIVEYB) #ucustrike #USSstrikes
I've been trying to follow Aon Hewitt (given that Universities UK have had a long relationship with Hewitt/Aon Hewitt (at least since 2007 universitiesuk.ac.uk/policy-and-ana…). Hewitt was purchased by Aon in 2010 nytimes.com/2010/07/13/bus… #ucustrike #USSstrikes
How do we understand the relationship between policy change, consultancy behaviour -- and, crucially, the behaviour of Universities UK in relation to pensions? So I started looking at the work of parliamentary committees and where Aon Hewitt appears #ucustrikes #ussstrikes
Read 21 tweets
1. Seen a video which has upset me. King's College London - people trying to debate views which I presume I would find disgusting considering previous things they have said, has resulted in people needing hospital treatment. I find it unnerving to see
2. smoke bombs being let off and violence in University lecture halls. It is unsettling that the supposed good girls & guys are wearing all black, masked and punching people. When did this change occur?
3. When university windows are being smashed in I can't help but call to mind the idea that totalitarianism comes for academics and learning first. I doubt those debaters had any good ideas to offer, I really don't think I would like what they say
Read 63 tweets
In case you haven't yet read @gailfdavies' fantastic tweets on the role of consultants in embedding a particular vision of 'flexible retirement' as the norm in universities, start with tweet below & then follow the tweets -- & links -- to the present #ucustrike #ussstrike
Inspired by @gailfdavies & @CLIVEYB's reflections, I've been thinking about how to understand the last decade or so in terms of discourses & practices around risk, collectivity, flexibility etc. in relation to university pensions #notallgeographers #USSstrike #ucustrike 1/
I've been tracking through the docs on pensions available on Universities UK website. Oldest document appears to be "Strategic enquiry into the pension arrangements for the higher education sector" published 2007 universitiesuk.ac.uk/policy-and-ana… 2/ #ussstrike #ucustrike
Read 33 tweets
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