‘’On behalf of the National Education Union (NUT Section), I send a message of solidarity to all UCU members taking action in their dispute to protect their pensions. You have our full support for the action you are taking to protect lecturers’ pension rights. We cannot allow the University employers to impose these unnecessary changes which would end lecturers’ defined benefit pensions - the basis of pension schemes across the whole of the public sector - even while the scandals continue to rage about vice chancellors’ wholly unjustified pay and pension packages. Your victory will help protect every public sector workers’ pension and we wish you well.“ – Kevin Courtney
University and College Union (UCU) members in the pre-1992 Universities are taking strike action over changes to the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS). UCU argues these changes could leave lecturers up to £10,000 a year worse off.
Universities UK wants to change the USS from a defined benefit scheme, based on average salary, to a defined contribution scheme, based on the stock market. UCU says young lecturers could lose up to half of their pension.
Defined contribution schemes transfer risk from the employer to the employee. With a defined benefit scheme, the pension is a function of salary and years in the scheme. In a defined benefit scheme, the employer bears the investment risk and the risks of employees living longer. With a defined contribution scheme, it’s the employee. Defined contribution schemes also mean employees have to make investment decisions – even in retirement in some cases.
The USS is the first major public sector scheme to attempt to move to defined contribution. If it succeeds, it increases the risk that teachers and other public sector workers will be forced to follow. This makes it more important to show solidarity to UCU members.