Second Open letter from the Brunel UCU Committee regarding the USS Pension Scheme

25th May 2021

Dear Vice-Chancellor,

We thank Gemma Bailey for the institutional response that we received on the 7th May. However as a committee, we are disappointed not to have received a direct response from yourself, as the figure head of this institution, as well as the explicit intended recipient of our formal letter. Within your institutional response it was stated that:

As you will be aware, there are a number of different parties involved with USS, each with different roles and views. UUK represent USS employers and UCU act on behalf of USS members and, given these different consultation lines, it would be unusual to consider a joint response with our union colleagues.

We are indeed aware of the different parties involved with USS, we are also acutely aware of the consequences that current proposals have for our members (i.e. your staff members). We are also aware that:

– in April 2020, UUK signed an agreement with UCU to ‘encourage participating employers to seek local feedback, for example through the formation of local working groups, on developing USS issues’. As Vice-Chancellor of Brunel, as well as UUK President, it is surprising that you have not supported the establishment of such a working group as previously proposed by the Brunel UCU Branch Chair, in order to honour this agreement.

– where such joint employer/UCU working groups exist in other institutions, they often take the lead in drafting that employer’s consultation responses (e.g. at Sheffield). At present, UCU head office know of at least eleven institutions that have established such a working group.

– other employers have produced joint statements with their UCU Branch, please see the joint statement at Kent, and Dundee, as examples of local joint working.

The letter also confirms that Brunel will not be sharing its institutional response to the UUK consultation, however it does not state any reasons why Brunel is unable to do this. We are formally requesting clarification as to the reasons behind this refusal, as UCU head office is aware of at least seventeen institutions that have committed to sharing their consultation response, either publicly, with all staff, or with UCU representatives.

In addition, there are two crucial requests from our previous letter still outstanding:

– confirmation that Brunel senior management will stand in solidarity with the Brunel UCU Branch regarding defence of the current Defined Benefits scheme.

– answers to our seven specific questions regarding the institutional response to the current UUK consultation, especially as we have been given no justifications as to why these answers can not be provided. We would appreciate a response from yourself as soon as possible.

Thank you

Yours Sincerely

Brunel UCU Committee