Cardiff University College Union (UCU) and Cardiff University joint statement on pension reform

Following Colin Riordan’s Question Time meeting with staff on Monday 5th March, and the pressure of three weeks of strong and committed strike action, he has worked with us to produce a limited joint statement around the reform of our pensions.

The statement reads:

On Monday 5th March the Vice-Chancellor and Chief Financial Officer of Cardiff University accepted an invitation from Cardiff University College Union (UCU) to meet with staff and students of the university to account for the Cardiff University position in the current University Superannuation Scheme (USS) pensions dispute. Following discussions at the meeting, the Vice-Chancellor and Cardiff UCU have agreed to call on both UCU and UUK to work with USS to challenge the Pensions Regulator to accept an academically robust, new and independent actuarial valuation. Cardiff University is keen to collaborate with colleagues at other universities to propose the key features of a methodology that would take proper account of USS as a multi-employer scheme. The Vice-Chancellor reiterated his support for working towards a solution that works for employee and employer alike.”

Cardiff UCU welcome this, and see it as a step forward in our fight for fairer pensions. It is encouraging that the Cardiff Vice-Chancellor has called for a re-valuation of our pension scheme, and has finally joined the ranks of the growing number of dissident University managers who are backing their staff on pensions.

Furthermore, Cardiff University UCU will continue to campaign for the following goals:

  • That the Vice-Chancellor commit to maintaining a fair and just direct benefits pension scheme for all Cardiff University staff;
  • The Vice-Chancellor commits to working with us to pressuring UUK and USS to retain our direct benefit pension scheme;
  • That the Vice-Chancellor act urgently, with a University-wide approach, to remove the threat of deducting wages from members undertaking action short of a strike, and that all staff will be assured they will not be asked to reschedule lectures on return to work;
  • The Vice-Chancellor and Cardiff University management commit to deducting no pay from striking workers because of the lack of due diligence in accepting a faulty valuation of our pensions in the first place;
  • That the Vice-Chancellor commit to full transparency around the decision-making process that led to Cardiff’s response to the UUK survey in September 2017, since several Universities have already acknowledged that their own institutional procedures were not adequately followed; and, finally
  • That the Vice-Chancellor commit to full transparency around any future decisions about changes to our pay and pensions.





Notes for editors:

Cardiff UCU members include academics, researchers, managers, librarians, computer staff, postgraduates who teach and other hourly paid teaching staff, on a range of fixed-term, permanent, full-time, and part-time, contracts.


Changes to the pension scheme:

This bitter strike is about proposals that would see members of the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) move from a “defined benefit” to a “defined contribution” pension. This means that many lecturers would need to work into old age, and no longer have certain income, since the amount they get would depend on the vagaries of the stock market and not how much they earn or contribute over their working lives.

The changes the USS pension scheme would decimate the retirement incomes of thousands of University staff. Under the new scheme, lecturers stand to lose between 40-60% a year in retirement, leaving many in poverty. Junior staff on low wages and precarious contracts, who make up about a quarter of Cardiff University employees, would be hit hardest.


The Phantom Pensions Deficit Explained on Video: “The Big Short”

This video explains, in very simple terms, explains the employers’ dodgy numbers and demolishes the basis for their pensions raid. It was produced by Cardiff UCU member from the School of Psychology Paul Allen, and features Dr Woon Wong, Cardiff UCU member, pensions expert, and Reader in Financial Economics at Cardiff Business School:


Cardiff UCU members pressurise Cardiff Uni Vice Chancellor to use his influence with UUK:


Full Video of Cardiff Uni Vice-Chancellor getting grilled by angry s­taff:


Strike dates:

Week 1: Thursday 22 and Friday 23 February (two days)

Week 2: Monday 26, Tuesday 27 and Wednesday 28 February (three days)

Week 3: Monday 5, Tuesday 6, Wednesday 7 and Thursday 8 March (four days)

Week 4: Monday 12, Tuesday 13, Wednesday 14, Thursday 15 and Friday 16 March (five days)


For more information, and the latest news please visit the dedicated campaign pages here:


Cardiff UCU media contacts:

  • Cardiff UCU Office:


Telephone: 02920 874443

  • Dr Andy Williams (English Language)


Phone: 07798 603706