USS Statement - Joint Negotiating Committee agrees proposed changes to USS.
The USS Joint Negotiating Committee (JNC) met on 10 May 2011 to give further consideration to the final form of the proposed scheme changes. This meeting was called at the specific request of the trustee board following a number of earlier JNC meetings that could not proceed due to the absence of the UCU nominees which rendered the meetings inquorate.
The committee agreed the proposed changes which include the modifications to the original proposals put forward by the employers at the suggestion of the trustee board following the consultation with affected employees and their representatives. The amending deed will be recommended to the USS trustee board at its next meeting with the intention of implementation later this year.
Sir Andrew Cubie, the independent chairman of the JNC said, “Whilst I was pleased that the meeting was once again quorate, I was deeply disappointed that the employers and UCU were not able to reach agreement on these important issues. In these circumstances I was again obliged to exercise my casting vote on proposals which I believe will help to ensure the long-term sustainability of USS.”
The date of implementation of the changes will be 1st October 2011.
A summary of the scheme changes can be found here.
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The JRG, a sub-group of USS's JNC, was assembled in late 2008 to undertake a review of USS to determine what changes should be made to USS to ensure that it remains an attractive and affordable defined benefit pension scheme, and one that will continue to be an integral part of the remuneration package to help recruit and retain high quality staff for higher education on an ongoing, sustainable basis.
It comprised representatives from the Employers' Pension Forum (representing USS employers) and UCU (representing USS members), together with an independent chairman, Sir Andrew Cubie, who was jointly appointed by the employers and UCU.
The JRG agreed a timetable which specified that a decision on changes to USS would be reached by the end of April 2010. After a long period of detailed negotiation, the Joint Review Group (JRG) was unable to agree changes to USS. The JRG was then disbanded. At its meeting on 30 April 2010 the Joint Negotiating Committee (JNC) received formal proposals from both the employers and UCU, and these were considered in detail within the JNC mechanism through which a decision can be made.
Following a meeting on 7 July 2010, the Joint Negotiating Committee (JNC) with Sir Andrew Cubie as its independant chairman, decided to accept a package of proposals put forward by the employers. These proposals formed the recommendation from the JNC which were to be considered by the USS Trustee Board at the meeting on 22 July 2010.
The USS trustee board met on 22 July 2010 and considered the package of proposed scheme changes recommended by the Joint Negotiating Committee (JNC)1 following its meeting on 7 July 2010.
After careful consideration of the JNC’s recommendation, the trustee board agreed to implement the proposed scheme changes, subject to the completion of the statutory consultation, acknowledging Sir Andrew’s view that they are in the best, long-term interests of the scheme as a whole.
Following on from the Board’s acceptance of the recommendation from the JNC, it also confirmed that it would write in the near future to the scheme’s participating employers to advise them of the changes that are proposed to be implemented.
Following receipt of these details, the employers informed affected members about the proposed changes, and undertook a consultation through which members and their representatives could express their views about the proposals. This consultation period ended on 22 December 2010.
The board considered the responses made to the consultation at their meeting on 20 January 2011, and after taking into account all of the representations received it has agreed to put forward some suggested modifications to the principal stakeholders and thereafter formally to the Joint Negotiating Committee (JNC). The specific areas which the Board suggests are reviewed relate to (i) the rejoining period for members who leave the final salary section and subsequently rejoin the scheme and (ii) the proposed caps on inflationary increases.
The meeting took place on 1 February 2011. The committee was unable to conclude its deliberations and the meeting was adjourned.
At its meeting on 24 March 2011 the trustee board received a letter from the chairman of the Joint Negotiating Committee (JNC) advising that the committee was unable to carry out its normal duties because the UCU nominees had failed to attend scheduled meetings on three occasions.
The trustee board sought legal advice on how best to resolve this issue. The nature of that advice is confidential. The trustee board, through its legal advisers, issued a letter to UCU and to UCU’s representatives on the JNC expressing its concern at their actions, and confirming the steps that the trustee board would intend to take to remedy the situation. USS’s chief executive Tom Merchant said “The normal business of USS has been disrupted by the failure of UCU representatives to attend the JNC on a number of occasions. This is intolerable to any scheme, not least a large scheme such as USS with 280,000 members and approximately 390 employers, and the board is taking steps to remedy the situation”.
The next meeting of the JNC was originally scheduled for 14 April 2011. However, in order to provide UCU with a further opportunity to formulate and bring forward its alternative proposals for changes to the scheme, the trustee board confirmed that the JNC meeting would be re-scheduled to take place on Tuesday 10 May 2011 where the trustee board will ask the JNC to formally decide on the scheme change proposals at the 10 May meeting, and in the intervening period UCU will have this further opportunity to produce its own alternative proposals and invite the employer representatives to respond to them.
Further Information can be found at: