At a very well attended branch meeting at Goldsmiths on November 5, we passed the following motions on USS.
1. This branch notes:
- The unjustified and illegitimate attack on our pensions and pledges its opposition to any downgrading of our pension benefits.
- The increasing divisions amongst the employers with, most recently, Oxford and Warwick Universities making public criticisms of the employers’ proposals.
- The launch of an assessment boycott as a necessary response to the attacks on our pensions and urges members to explain the issues to students and to collectivise the action wherever possible. This might consist of, for example, organizing Departmental meetings about the implementation of the boycott, leafleting student halls of residence and sharing strategies across branches.
- UCU policy that, in the event of other universities making drastic deductions of pay for partial performance, ‘members should be informed that should an employer implement punitive deductions this will result in a national response and the calling of national strike action’ and urges UCU to stick to this promise.
This branch calls:
- On Goldsmiths SMT to make a public statement opposing the attack on our pensions and urging meaningful negotiations as soon as possible.
- On UCU negotiators to defend the final salary scheme for existing members and to extend it to all members of USS.
- On UCU negotiators to sanction plans for escalation including a boycott of admissions-related events and procedures.
- For a recall special sector conference to draw up the most effective strategy for the dispute.
- For a College-wide Assembly to discuss the pensions dispute (and related issues) in association with the other campus unions [which we now have for Tuesday 18 November].
2. The branch also passed the following bullet points aimed at national negotiators
We demand that negotiators
- immediately undertake actions that can affect our employers at the financial level, instead of relying on a form of pressure which is transmitted via our students;
- immediately make clear to its membership what is the strategy of this action, how it envisages our action will put pressure on the employers, how it may be escalated and when, in relation to USS negotiations;
- clarify to members what its parameters for negotiation might be: Are we engaged in industrial action to stop any changes to USS? Are there changes we would accept?
- consult with branches about the nature of their action and support forms of action beyond the marking boycott (boycott of open days, boycott of admissions, consecutive strikes days, etc…);
- undertake national strike action in support of members at universities who face 100% pay deductions for actions short of a strike;
- explicitly address how it will support its most vulnerable members in terms both of the pension dispute and the industrial action.