Debunking Sally Hunt’s email
However you intend to vote in the USS ballot, we believe that several claims made in the email sent to UCU members on 4th April along with the ballot on the current UUK proposal need to be addressed and debunked.
The email misrepresents the views of any UCU members who may wish to reject the proposal. Hunt misrepresents any ‘no’ vote as a vote for a ‘No Detriment’ position. This position demands hard guarantees about the outcome of the process undertaken by the proposed Expert Panel. However, the most popular position held by those rejecting the proposal is ‘Revise and Resubmit’, which merely requests further talks in order to provide simple clarifications of how the Panel will function. Hunt’s email deliberately conflates the two, presumably in order to frighten members into accepting the proposal.
Furthermore, despite this ballot calling for us to vote on the UUK proposal, the email does not actually include the text of the proposal. Instead, it is linked to at the very bottom of the email. What we get in the ballot email is Sally Hunt’s interpretation of what she thinks the UUK proposal means. Much like her confusion of R&R and No Detriment, she also misrepresents key points about the UUK proposal. She claims there are guarantees, but scrutiny of the actual proposal demonstrates that she is wrong (for more detail, see #USSbriefs6 by Sam Marsh). For example:
· Hunt claims that the original UUK Defined Contribution proposal is now ‘off the table’, but there is no guarantee of this in the UUK proposal, even when complemented by Alastair Jarvis’s letter.
· Hunt claims that a ‘comparable’ pension is ‘guaranteed’, but there is no clarity about what this means in the UUK proposal.
· Hunt claims that there is a letter between tPR and USS, giving assurances about the role of tPR. There is no mention of this in the UUK proposal, and no such letter has yet been made public.
· The fact that some key issues (such as the equality implications of any changes to the USS scheme, and its comparability with TPS, the Teachers’ Pension Scheme) will be ‘discussed’ is portrayed as a significant advance, but the commitment is for talks only.
Finally, Hunt is wrong to claim that voting ‘no’ will automatically mean going on strike for 14 more days, and then having to escalate later on. If UUK are committed to ending this dispute, there is still time to get a clearer, firmer proposal from them without going through another wave of extended strike action. Hunt is right to say that the strikes have ‘transformed’ our situation; but this is precisely why the prospect of further industrial action will lead to a better offer from our employers.
This paper represents the views of the authors only. The authors believe all information to be reliable and accurate; if any errors are found please contact us so that we can correct them. We welcome discussion of the points raised and suggest that discussants use Twitter with the hashtag #USSbriefs11; the authors will try to respond as appropriate. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.