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UCU reballot: perspective from the Vice-Chancellor

"You may be aware that following an unsuccessful ballot of members in October / November 2021, the University and College Union (UCU) is holding another ballot to try to authorise strike action over pensions and pay. This will be the third ballot in 12 months.

Nothing has changed in the intervening weeks between the last two ballots. The facts, on which members voted, remain as before.

As you know, for official strike action to take place 50% of UCU members must vote. In the last ballot a few weeks ago 44% of members voted.

It is worth considering that in this context, not voting and thereby withholding a mandate for a strike, is a legitimate and democratic action, as much as is explicitly voting for or against a strike.

It is important to know that wherever individuals are in regard to the current pensions proposals, change not only needs to happen, but it will happen whether we like it or not, either in the form of the proposed changes as set out in the consultation material (or some alternative that is similar in cost) or USS will revert to the fall-back position. The existing national pension scheme is unaffordable in its present form and neither are the contribution increases set out in the fall-back position, for either members or employers.

On the other hand, the proposed changes are solid, Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) benefits remain competitive compared to many private pension schemes and reduce the impact on employees and universities compared with the fall-back position. The USS fall-back position should the proposals not progress will see your contributions rise to 18.8% and the University’s to 38.2% within four years.

Under the proposed changes put forward by the USS Joint Negotiating Committee (JNC), member contributions will remain at 9.8%.

The past two academic years have been awful for our students and for colleagues. We have all adapted and are in a better place. Our students are beginning tentatively to enjoy life and learning on campus again.

However, as we now face the realities of a new Covid variant and all that implies, we know that any strike action will hit our students hard and set them back once more. Their needs, as well as the sound financial footing of both the University of Warwick and the entire HE sector, must be weighed against the impact of any strike action resulting from this repeated ballot."

Stuart Croft
Vice-Chancellor and President

1 December 2021


Further information

You can see more detail on the proposed changes in our USS Q&As or on the USS consultation website.