Cardiff UCU president Mark Hale and executive committee member Colin Berry today delivered the 16,991 signature UCU petition to Jayne Dowden, Cardiff University’s Chief Operating Officer, who accepted it on behalf of the Vice Chancellor Colin Riordan. She was urged to work with staff to convince the central employers’ body Universities UK to scrap plans to cut pensions by more than a quarter.
The petition reads: “We the undersigned believe that the USS pension scheme is an important benefit to university staff as well as a significant factor in the recruitment and retention of high quality staff for member institutions.
“We note that the employers’ initial proposals would have meant a reduction in annual pension income of up to 27% for staff. We call upon the USS Board to agree a fair method of valuation which reflects the underlying strength of the USS fund.
“We call upon university managements to support such an approach and to work with UCU to develop a pension scheme which ensures all eligible existing and future staff, including casualised staff, benefit from a decent guaranteed pension income.”
The assessment boycott by UCU lecturers was recently temporarily suspended until joint negotiations over future pensions changes on the 15th January 2015. If the offer is not improved the boycott will kick in again, along with the possibility of further industrial action.
Mark Hale said: “The huge numbers of researchers, academics and support staff who’ve signed this petition really show the strength of feeling among our members about this pensions dispute.
“I see pensions as deferred pay not some added extra, so what’s happening here is a huge back-door pay cut and a massive change to what staff signed up for.
“We hope Cardiff University starts to lobby Universities UK to see sense on this. It’s not just in UCU members’ interests to have a fair deal on pensions. The University management will also suffer if something isn’t done, as they’re going to have real trouble holding on to research, teaching and support staff as well as attracting new high quality talent to Cardiff if these changes go ahead”.