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Meeting with IOE Students' Union

Defend education workers' pensions

Friday 18 November
1 - 2 pm
IOE Students’ Union


  • Kevin Courtney, National Union of Teachers (NUT), Deputy General Secretary
  • Mark Bergfeld, National Union of Students (NUS), Member of National Executive Council
  • John Yandell, IOE branch, University and College Union (UCU), President
  • Susan McGrath, IOE Students’ Union (CHAIR), President Finance and Services

Everyone welcome. Free entry. Sandwiches provided.


Branch meeting

At our branch meeting, yesterday, there were 2 main agenda items.

1.  UCU national anti-stress and bullying week (7-11 November) 

  • Our branch health and safety officer gave a report on local action to tackle workplace bullying. She circulated copies of the branch executive's workplace bullying paper (pdf).
  • She gave guidance on how to handle informal, management-initated meetings which bypass standard policies and proceedures (eg on restructuring and workload management).
  • Members were asked to contact the executive with bullying problems as soon as possible, as UCU caseworkers can often nip them in the bud.

2.  UCU national dispute over cuts to USS pensions

  • As part of "working to contract", members voted to withdraw from the following activities, if they were unable to accommodate them within their normal working hours: (a) TOAST survey, (b) Mock REF exercise and (c) Staff Review and Development (SRD) process.
  • Members, in response to UCU national office's request for actions to escalate the dispute, voted to recommend: (a) taking part in the national pensions strike on 30 November and (b) a boycott of the REF exercise. 
  • A joint meeting with the IOE Student's Union, was announced. Volunteers were asked to hand out leaflets to students and staff entering 20 Bedford Way on Friday 11, between 8.30 and 10am. (Download leaflet (pdf) about the event).

USS pension update

UCU member, Dennis Leech, a professor of economics at the University of Warwick writes:

"The latest triennial valuation of the USS pension scheme showed it was in deficit by £2.9 billion in March 2011. This is a large figure, which the employers are reporting in absolute terms, without putting it in context, in order to frighten people.  It is less alarming to think of it as a percentage: USS was 92 percent funded.  

This compares with 103 percent at the last full valuation in March 2008. But this comparison does not bring out how very volatile these valuations are. Estimates that have been made for the funding level in the intervening years were 75 percent in 2009 and 91 percent in 2010."

Read his letter in the Financial Times about the need to reform pension fund valuations.


Branch meeting

At our branch meeting, today, we:

  1. Heard that our UCU branch negotiators had accepted IOE management's latest workload management system (WMS) proposal, including an improved tariff of 0.75 FTE per 20 students, in line with our last resolution on WMS. We learnt that our negotiators had reminded management that their proposal was a working document and only as good as its implementation. Members were asked to feedback on its implementation.

  2. Debated a resolution about our campaign of industrial action over cuts to the USS pension scheme. We voted separately on the four numbered clauses at the end. The vote on the REF boycott was 8 for, 2 against and (at least) 8 abstentions. Our branch president therefore announced that this part, though formally carried, would not be implemented at this stage: throughout the debate, we had been very clear that each of these forms of action were only viable if we could be confident that they would involve the mass of our members.  Our branch president said that we would return to this.

USS pension update

Today, at one of our termly meetings with IOE management, UCU branch representatives got the following confirmation from management.

Any member of staff with a contract of employment that specifies the right to retire at the ages of 60 to 65 is still entitled to retire at 60 to 65 on an unreduced pension.