Bad cure for good health

August 26, 2010

May I offer congratulations to the Universities Superannuation Scheme investment staff on their £40,000 bonus payments ("Bumper bonuses for USS staff reignite union anger", www.timeshighereducation.co.uk) - generated, we are told, by an excellent investment performance in the 2009-10 financial year, and by a huge increase in the value of the scheme from £21 billion to £25.5 billion.

USS members are on salaries that average out at not much more than £40,000 a year and many earn much less. Most will find it difficult to understand why they should be threatened with enormously detrimental changes to their pension scheme when it is in such robust good health. Many will be reinforced in their determination to take whatever action is necessary to see off the threat to devalue their future pension expectations.

The University and College Union has been proved correct in its contention that there is no financial justification for the draconian cuts that the employers and the USS are threatening to impose without consent. I challenge the employers and the USS to put their proposed cuts to a ballot of all USS members (whether UCU members or not) and to agree to respect the outcome. This offers a clear way out of the present impasse that can restore respect for the scheme and avoid a damaging industrial dispute of unprecedented proportions.

Alan Carr, Honorary treasurer, UCU, and member of the USS Joint Negotiating Committee.

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