The following open letter was sent today to Professor Colin Riordan, Vice-Chancellor of Cardiff University from the Executive of Cardiff University and College Union, Cardiff Students’ Union, and Cardiff Students Support the Strike
Dear Professor Riordan,
We are writing to urge you to use your voice today to push for a swift and constructive end to the current industrial action over pensions that is so painful for our students, our staff, and our institution.
On the 19th February, you were asked by Universities UK (UUK) whether or not you wanted to make an enhanced offer with regards to the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS), an offer that could have averted this action. No offer was made. Indeed, UUK reported that 84% of Vice-Chancellors voted against extending a new offer.
We understand that before 3pm today, 26 February 2020, UUK will be soliciting your input on a potential offer to the UCU.
We request that you:
- Tell UUK today that you want to offer UCU negotiators a USS contribution rate that they can recommend to their union, so that this dispute can be settled.
- Reveal to Cardiff University students and staff how you are responding today and have done in the past to UUK consultations
Today is your chance to contribute to an end to the industrial action by telling UUK that this time you want to present an offer. UUK can only resolve this dispute if Vice-Chancellors like you tell them that you want them to do it. As you have said so many times, we need to find a solution. Today, UUK needs to hear from you. This is your chance to do something!
The Executive of Cardiff University and College Union
Cardiff Students’ Union
Cardiff Students Support the Strike
Members may be interested to note the following additional information.
UCU negotiators cannot and will not accept unaffordable USS contribution rates, because:
- Some staff have already been forced out of the USS pension scheme altogether, having to sacrifice dignity in retirement for financial security, and more likely will be.
- It is the lowest-paid staff – disproportionately female and BAME – would be most threatened by unaffordable rise in rates.
- Such opting-out would in turn undermine the long-term stability of the scheme, which UUK claims is a great concern to them and to the USS trustees.
- For staff who decide to stay in the scheme, rate rises would further reduce their monthly net pay, which has already fallen one-fifth on average in real terms (a matter subject to a related dispute).
- Again, it is women and BAME staff remaining in the scheme would be affected disproportionately harshly.
- An unattractive employment package – pension combined with pay and workload – will deter excellent scholars from joining Cardiff University in future, harming this institution in far into the future.
The JEP was an agreed by UUK, USS and the UCU as a means of finding agreement on the pension valuation. To ignore its findings and recommendations is bad faith and bad science. The dismissal of both the JEP’s report and Professor Jane Hutton has further undermined UCU trust in USS governance.