I wanted to write to you in relation to the industrial action which has taken place over the last two weeks in relation to the USS Pensions.
First of all, I want to clarify our local position with regard to industrial action. Concerns have been raised with me that this University will take a particularly punitive approach towards colleagues engaged in action taken short of a strike. While the University reserves the right to make proportionate deductions for partial performance where this is in breach of a contract, I have instructed staff that this will not be applied in the case of rescheduling of lectures missed on strike days. We will carefully look at the advice we provide to staff to reflect this, correcting any impression that this is not the case.
My view on the wider dispute remains one of concern. I am pleased UUK and UCU met for talks this week, and that they have agreed to meet again with ACAS. I hope this meeting will take place early next week. As I have said previously, these negotiations must be held in good faith and without pre-conditions. We have reiterated that position repeatedly this week and also conveyed this to our colleagues in the Russell Group.
It is also my view that colleagues should engage with the pensions regulator to allow vital additional time to reach a proper resolution. This would allow for the input of expert advice on the valuation which is central to the future of USS. The current valuation has been widely disputed and addressing this will be key to the negotiation.
The position of our University is that we are actively seeking a sustainable resolution and, indeed, I have been pressing for this for some time. I remain committed to the educational values we share, and will do all I can to ensure that staff in the USS scheme receive the best possible outcome.
Professor Sir Keith Burnett FRS President and Vice-Chancellor