The University and College Union read with interest the valiant attempt by the Universities UK chief executive Nicola Dandridge to sell the employers' proposals to reform the Universities Superannuation Scheme ("Live long and prosper: we must work together to reform our pensions", May). She did her best with what was unpromising material. The creation of a two-tier pension benefits system would cost the average new lecturer £1,000 compared with the existing package.
This was never going to be popular. Just how much this offer misjudged the mood is shown by the UCU's record-breaking consultation, which closed last week. On a 60 per cent turnout, 96 per cent opposed the proposals, with a similar number preferring an alternative put forward by the UCU that set out a plan for sharing costs without reducing the value of benefits.
The UCU's consultation makes clear what members do not want to happen. Now the job of both parties is to secure the future of the fund over which we, as representatives of employers and employees, hold joint custody. We urgently need to begin talks, using the offices of the independent chair Sir Andrew Cubie to help find a joint solution.
The UCU's proposals show not only that we care deeply about our members' benefits but also that we are passionate about securing the future of the fund we helped to set up. Our message to the employers is: don't delay, respond to our invitation today and let us secure the future for USS members past, present and future.
Sally Hunt, UCU general secretary; Terry McKnight, lead UCU negotiator.