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November, 2016:

USS pensions: more cuts coming ?

The USS pension scheme is the main scheme for academic and academic related staff in pre-1992 universities.  Three of its 10 directors are appointed by UCU.   UCU opposed the closure of the final salary scheme earlier this year.   We did secure some important changes to the scheme to protect members from the worst effects of the closure of the final salary scheme, but it has now ended.

The closure of the final salary scheme was the result of warnings to the USS Board that the scheme faced a huge deficit.   UCU challenged the way the scheme’s assets were valued and members supported strike action to defend the benefits that would be cut for future scheme members.  University of Sheffield UCU have produced a useful account of the events that led up to the end of the final salary scheme.

Now the scheme’s assets are set to be valued again, (for one of the more accessible descriptions of the issues at stake in the valuation process see this post from Mike Otsuka of LSE UCU)  and it is possible – perhaps even likely – that another huge deficit will be discovered and members will have to take further cuts to their benefits and/or increases to contributions.

University of Bath VC Glynis Breakwell has ruled herself out of any discussions with the local branch about USS because she is a paid member of the USS Board.  We have therefore set out to the University’s Director of HR the points we want the University to consider in any representations it makes on the future of the scheme.

For those with the appetite, USS have released a video stream of the meeting of institutions, including Bath University, held on December 1st.

We will keep you informed of any proposals that come forward.

Events in November & December


Talk: “Yarl’s Wood: Detentions and Deportations”
Tue, 8th Nov, 18:15, CB1.12

Bath UCU and University of Bath Amnesty Society are co-hosting speakers from Movement for Justice, a migrant rights group, to talk about their experience of and campaign against detention centres, mass deportations and racism in the UK. Coach tickets from Bath for the “Shut Down Yard’s Wood” demonstration will be on sale, or can be purchased online. Students and staff from Bath are also joining the ‘Stand Up to Racism’ bloc at the ‘United for Education’ demo – tickets available at this talk and online.


Event: Special Branch Meeting – “Restructures, Redundancies & Resistance – A Warning from London”
Wed, 9th Nov, 13:15, CB3.9

London Met University, one in the country for widening participation, is under threat of privatisation and severe cuts to provision. Staff are engaged in a major fight against 395 redundancies, and their senior UCU branch officer have been sacked. The extraordinary events at ‘London Met’ could set the tone for universities across the country, particularly in the context of the Higher Education Bill. We are pleased to welcome Mark Campbell, lecturer and former London Met UCU Branch Secretary, to speak about his experiences, and what they could mean at universities across the country. All University of Bath staff and students welcome to attend. More information: What’s On.


Demo: Stop Virgin taking over Bath’s Health Services
Thurs, 10th Nov, 17:00, The Guildhall

A large demonstration in Bath on 29th October heard from Ken Loach and other speakers about the imminent privatisation of Bath’s primary NHS services.

The decision is due to be taken at a meeting in Bath Guildhall and there will be a further demonstration from 5pm, calling for the contract not to be awarded to Virgin Care.

http://bathchronicle.co.uk/virgin-care-protest/story-29851322-detail/story.html.


Social Event: Bath Welcomes Refugees Fundraiser – “F**k Racism”
Mon, 14th Nov, 20:00-02:00, The Nest

This expletively titled event, billed as “a night for love and compassion!” will feature live music, talks, games and more, with all proceeds going to Bath Welcomes Refugees. More information: Facebook event.


Talk: “What is Feminism?”
Tue, 15th Nov, 18:30, CB4.16

Hosted by University of Bath Students’ Union Gender Equality Group and Amnesty International Society. More information: Facebook event.


Discussion: Education in Crisis
Thurs, 17th Nov, 18:15, CB3.11

Bath UCU and the Students’ Union have been invited to join a panel discussion on “the government’s plans to radically change Further and Higher Education, how this will affect staff and students and what we can do in response.” The event will be followed by a placard and banner making session for all those who will be attending the National Demo on November 19th. More details: Facebook event.


Demo: United for Education
Sat, 19th Nov, Leaving Bath at 08:30

UCU and the NUS are holding a mass demonstration in defence of free, accessible and quality further and higher education and to demand an end to privatisation and cuts in universities and colleges. Staff, students and supporters from across the education sector and trade union movement will march in London on Saturday 19th November, in what promises to be a huge show of opposition to government policy on post-school education. Bath UCU will be subsidising travel and all members are encouraged to attend. Tickets can be purchased online or at the next branch meeting. More information: Bath UCU Blog.


Day of Action against Casual Contracts in HE
Thurs, 24th Nov.

Our employer the University of Bath continues to stall on the promise it made to reduce the use of casual contracts for teaching and research.   Watch out for details of our next action on this. Contact ucu-sec@bath.ac.uk for details.


Demo: “Shut Down Yarl’s Wood”
Sat, 3rd Dec, Leaving Bath at 09:00

Students, staff and local residents have organised a coach to this, the tenth, demonstration outside the notorious Yarl’s Wood Detention Centre. Bath UCU will be subsidising travel and tickets can be purchased online or from Christopher Roche at the next branch meeting. More information: Facebook event.


Gender Equality Film: Made in Dagenham
Mon, 5th December, 18:15, CB1.10

We are joining up with the Students’ Union Gender Equality group to screen “Made in Dagenham”, an inspirational feel-good film about a group of women factory workers who launched an incredible fight against sexism in the work place, and ended up making history. All staff and students welcome. Free entry. No ticket required.

Bath UCU AGM

Wed, 14th Dec, 13:15, 8W2.30.

Nominations for branch officer and committee posts will be circulated next week. If you want to get more involved in the work of your union, contact me for further information at ucu-sec@bath.ac.uk.


 

United for Education Demo #Nov19

No to Fees, No to Cuts, No to Debt

The National Union of Students (NUS) and University and College Union (UCU) are holding a mass demonstration in defence of free, accessible and quality further and higher education and to demand an end to privatisation and cuts in universities and colleges. Staff, students and supporters from across the education sector and trade union movement will march in London on Saturday 19th November, in what promises to be a huge show of opposition to government policy on post-school education.

University of Bath Students’ Union are running coaches for students, staff and supporters. Bath UCU are proud to be providing financial support.

Join the Facebook Event: www.facebook.com/events/708038252677972/

Reserve your coach ticket today (£5 return):

Events before the demonstration:

  • Demo Information Session – Thursday 10th November, 18:15 in 8 West 2.5.
    Hosted by University of Bath Students’ Union.
  • Education in Crisis Tour – Thursday 17th November, 18:15 in TBC.
    Facebook Event: www.facebook.com/events/579719922236019/
    Open to all students & staff.
    ‘The agenda of this government is clear – they want an education system where our institutions operate in the interests of profit and business. But there are thousands of students, staff and education activists up and down the country who reject this vision. We want a system which is free, democratic and accessible to all, which values education as a social good. Come along to what will be a truly informative event, discuss the state of Further & Higher Education, and plan for the future. With speakers from Bath UCU, Bath Students’ Union and the National Campaign against Fees and Cuts.’