UCU National Executive Committee Must Amend Terms of USS Joint Expert Panel

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We, the undersigned members of UCU, wish to express our dismay at the report on the Joint Expert Panel, including draft proposals for the JEP's selection process and terms of reference, which was presented to the meeting of the Higher Education Committee on 27 April.

We note that the draft makes no provision for election to, accountability of, or transparency in the workings of the JEP. Absent such provisions, we fear that the JEP may become little more than an exercise to “boost public confidence” in the existing valuation, as the Chief Executive of UUK has put it. If so, UCU will thereby be co-opted into endorsing cuts to our pensions. We believe this is entirely inappropriate for a trade union, which exists to defend workers’ interests.

Moreover, the fact that no amendments to the report were permitted at HEC meeting speaks to a deep crisis in the union’s internal democratic structures.

We believe these problems concern UCU’s basic functions as a democratic trade union, which affect both the Higher and Further Education sectors, and are therefore a matter for the National Executive Committee (NEC).

We therefore call on the NEC to intervene at the first opportunity to amend the JEP report to specify that:

(1) UCU-nominated members of the JEP should be elected by UCU's membership from a shortlist compiled by UCU's Superannuation Working Group. Candidates should be not merely technical experts but also willing to challenge the actuarial and regulatory orthodoxy that has led us to this point.

(2) UCU-nominated members of the JEP should provide monthly updates on the progress of the JEP review to HEC and the UCU membership, and provide opportunities for members to ask any questions that may arise.

(3) As far as is legally possible, all data supplied by USS to the JEP should be made available for public scrutiny.