Sam Marsh Profile picture
You might know me from UCU/maths/Sheffield/elsewhere. @SheffieldUCU committee member and ex-@UCU national #USS negotiator. Not wrong in isolation.
Cristina Marinetti Profile picture 1 added to My Authors
Nov 22 5 tweets 1 min read
Based on our experiences last summer, one way to bust this threat from VCs lies with line managers/HoDs. Ask them daily "here's my work plan for today: am I in breach of contract if I work in this way, and, if so, shall I go home with no pay?". Make them send you home. If they don't send you home, they may struggle to deduct pay.
Oct 14 9 tweets 6 min read
❓Did you know❓Earlier this year, @USSpensions proposed a new investment strategy to employers that would ramp up their leveraged liability driven investments (LDI). Yes, that's the very strategy that's in the news for having caused major problems for pension schemes... 1/ The claim from USS in a message from @Barker4Kate to employers is that they've weathered the storm (so far). This is believable, because their cashflows are much easier to manage than in closed schemes, and they may not have got far ramping up the leverage when the crisis hit. 2/ Image
Mar 2 14 tweets 8 min read
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/
Feb 20 10 tweets 7 min read
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/…
Feb 19 6 tweets 8 min read
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.
Feb 16 8 tweets 5 min read
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)
Feb 16 4 tweets 3 min read
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/
Nov 16, 2021 12 tweets 6 min read
A long overdue thread on the @USSpensions consultation, and what you might consider saying.

Firstly, here's consultation link. You will need your USS member number, which you can find on the top of emails from them, plus identifying information. 1/ Once you're logged in, you can play with the modeller and confirm that @UniversitiesUK are shameless about misrepresenting the scale of the cuts. (I am projected to lose ~36% of my future guaranteed pension, which falls to ~28% including DC converted to an annuity.) 2/
Sep 25, 2021 11 tweets 5 min read
❓ 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/
Sep 3, 2021 18 tweets 7 min read
Let's talk about the non-existent 2021 valuation, that could have been invoked by @USSpensions as a solution to the crisis that the scheme and pre-92 HE sector is heading towards. (This is an overdue thread.) 1/ It is widely appreciated by the scheme's members that the 2020 valuation date of 31 March 2020 is right in the middle of a COVID-related dip in the markets (first-wave, locked-down, market chaos), and is one important factor in the huge £14-15bn deficit. 2/
Sep 1, 2021 14 tweets 8 min read
Want a whistle-stop summary of how we ended up hurtling towards industrial action over #USS? Here's a brief summary. 1/ 1. The valuation date

@USSpensions ploughed ahead with a valuation using market data from the peak of market turmoil in the first wave of COVID (31 March 2020), wiping billions off the value of the scheme's assets.
Sep 11, 2020 12 tweets 5 min read
"Tired of your old Test 1? Always found the linakage too rigidly mechanical? Then welcome to the new, improved Metric A!" Or so the marketing spiel seems to go. But look below the surface and you'll find all the same logical flaws and a near identical ramping up of costs. 1/ I will try and keep this as accessible as possible, because #USS can't be allowed to bluff their way through this stuff. First, a recap. What was wrong with Test 1? 2/
Apr 9, 2020 24 tweets 12 min read
Okay, time for that #USS update! This thread is going to take in as much of what's going on as possible. And that is *a lot*. I will try to be as concise as I can, but this could be a long one. Happy Easter break. 1/ Firstly, the #USS board has confirmed it is proceeding with the 2020 valuation using market data as at 31 March. It is hard to see how a meaningful assessment of the scheme's long-term health can be made as that date, but that's what we're going to have to try and do. 2/
Mar 10, 2020 28 tweets 9 min read
I wrote a quick reaction to the 2020 methodology "discussion document" that #USS released yesterday, but I didn't go into detail on the claims I made. Allow me to do some of that in a thread now. 1/… There are three main problems I identified in #USS's document:

1. The dual-discount rate they illustrate is a very close match for their old methodology;
2. Test 1 has been replaced by Test 1 v2.0;
3. We are still hitting a brick wall when it comes to evidence.

Dec 19, 2019 12 tweets 7 min read
The release of the Joint Expert Panel's second report and the clear resolve shown by @UCU members mean we are now in a strong position to make major changes to how #USS is managed. A future free from the intense acrimony of recent years is possible. We need to make it happen. 1/ In September, I wrote that it was essential we take a stand over #USS in order to shift the balance of power in the discussions. The resounding mandate and first wave of strike action have totally changed the dynamics of recent meetings. 2/…
Nov 28, 2019 15 tweets 7 min read
People have been asking me for more details on the 9 day delay I tweeted about yesterday. I'm very happy to oblige, as it illustrates very clearly what we've been up against, and why it's hard to see constructive progress being made on #USS while Bill Galvin is in post. 1/ This summer, a subgroup of the #USS JNC was set up to look at modelling of the fund to get a better understand of the risks the scheme is carrying. We've been asking for such information for years, but have struggled to get meaningful data and modelling out of #USS. 2/
Nov 15, 2019 17 tweets 7 min read
It seems VCs at @USSemployers are struggling to understand what they need to do to end the threat of heavy industrial action over #USS, and I'm appalled by how little "leadership" we're seeing from such highly paid servants of the sector. Let me enlighten them. 1/ The legal terms of the dispute couldn't be clearer. We want @USSemployers to pick up the highly controversial increased costs of the scheme, which lack a solid justification. We have spent years pointing out why, and have been vindicated by an independent expert report. 2/
Oct 14, 2019 14 tweets 6 min read
Jane Hutton's suspension followed shortly after an email she wrote to me, the JNC chair, and one of UUK's negotiators. The reaction this email received from #USS CEO Bill Galvin makes me believe he considered it a breach of her responsibilities. 1/ My guess is that this email formed part of the case that #USS assembled against Jane and resulted in her being fired on Friday. This is only guesswork, as the report is kept in a locked room and has not (and will not) be published. So what was in Jane's email? 2/
Sep 16, 2019 23 tweets 10 min read
This weekend, Observer economics editor @phillipinman wrote an article on the #USS dispute, which enraged many within @UCU due to the inaccuracies it contained and the inflamatory conclusion.

What was wrong with it? Here are the errors I found. 1/… 1. A deficit of over £20bn on liabilities of £87bn.

I don't recognise either of these numbers, though it's unclear on which basis the liabilities are supposed to be valued. Self-sufficiency? PPF? Not clear. Perhaps Phillip isn't sure either. 2/
Sep 9, 2019 12 tweets 6 min read
Two crucial Higher Education ballots open today! With one on pay, equality, job security, and workload, and the other on #USS pensions, both disputes centre on whether employers can afford to pay to fix the issues. So can they? Here are the facts. 1/ Affordability is all about priorities. The question is: how highly are staff prioritised in higher education spending? The answer (in aggregate) is found in the "Higher Education Finance Statistics" report, produced earlier this year by @commonslibrary. 2/…
Aug 30, 2019 9 tweets 5 min read
Wow. This is good. "We would prefer not to have to negotiate in public like this, but UCU is completely misrepresenting the employer position to union members" claim @UniversitiesUK. But what they have written here is not quite true. 1/ @UniversitiesUK The first offer we received from @UniversitiesUK was an informal, sketchy proposal on Tuesday 20th August at the JNC. This offer was described to us as 9.1% member contributions for two years, followed by 11% in October 2021, conditional on cancellation of the planned ballot. 2/