UUK accuses UCU of “peddling misinformation” about USS proposal

Universities UK (UUK) has accused the University and College Union (UCU) of “peddling misinformation” to its members on negotiations regarding changes to contribution levels for the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS).

UUK said that it offered USS members a contribution rate of 9.1 per cent if the union agreed not to proceed with the planned ballot on industrial action, which is due to begin on 9 September.

Following the discussions, UCU claimed that UUK and USS employers insisted on a two-year moratorium on any strike action, which UUK has denied.

Commenting, a UUK spokesperson said: “We would prefer not to have to negotiate in public like this, but UCU is completely misrepresenting the employer position to union members.

“At the Joint Negotiating Committee (JNC), UCU negotiators indicated they were unwilling to compromise, refused to consult their members over the alternative offer, and consequently rejected it.

“Our offer would result in a lower member contribution rate of 9.1% – exactly aligned with the rate proposed by the Joint Expert Panel in its first report, which employers and the union support.

“The USS trustee is open to considering whether the current split in contributions can be changed, so we would urge the union to engage constructively with this offer.”

However, UCU denies that it was misleading members, and that UUK suggesting that it did not include a two-year moratorium in its offer was "disingenuous".

A UCU spokesperson said: “The comment the employers are referring to was made by the union’s National Disputes Committee in response to the written offer discussed on 22 August, which included a two-year moratorium on strikes.

"For the employers to try and suggest it is anything else is disingenuous.

"As we said last week, any serious offer will be considered by our higher education committee. They meet on Friday 6 September. We hope further talks with the employers next week will lead to something for them to consider.”

Last week (23 August), UCU announced that it would be opening a ballot to members to vote on whether to initiate industrial action, after proposal to increase member contributions to 9.6 per cent were approved at a JNC meeting.

Earlier this week (28 August), USS launched an employer consultation on its proposed recovery plan and contribution schedule to tackle the scheme’s £6.6bn deficit.

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