GUCU Motion on USS Divestment

Passed unanimously at GUCU branch meeting 29.01.2020

This Union notes that:

–     USS, the main pension provider for a large number of Goldsmiths staff, invests funds in a wide range of companies that many of us would consider unethical, including defense companies Raytheon and Thales. Raytheon manufactures the Paveway IV guided missile – for which Thales contribute the fuse – used by both the RAF in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria; and Saudi Arabia in Yemen. Fragments of the Paveway IV have been found at numerous sites across Yemen, including the aftermath of a 2018 strike that killed 23 people at a wedding.

–     USS itself is clearly aware of the unethical nature of its investment portfolio, given that it offers a specific ‘‘ethical lifestyle” pensions package option. This option is only available for additional contributions in the USS Investment Builder, including contributions above the current £58,589.70 earning threshold. For all earners below this threshold, accounting for the bulk of USS investment funds, the “default lifestyle” pension package option remains the only option.

–     The USS ethical lifestyle portfolio explicitly excludes not only the arms trade but also fossil fuels, tobacco, gambling and pornography: by direct implication, USS is willing to and does include arms trade, fossil fuels, tobacco, gambling and pornography as legitimate areas for its standard investment.

This Union resolves to:

–          Raise this issue locally with Goldsmiths’ Warden and Senior Management Team, urging them to publicly call for USS to divest from defense companies and other unethical companies, including those considered responsible for significant contributions to environmental destruction;

–          Bring these facts to the attention of GUCU members, many of whom may be unaware how their pension fund is used;

–          Propose a motion to UCU Congress mandating national representatives to request USS undertake the above moves to divest, and to explore other means of pressure if USS does not respond adequately.


Proposed: James Burton

Seconded: David Brenner