USS ballot for industrial action opens this week (28 Nov 2017)

Email to members from Sally Hunt, UCU General Secretary

Dear colleague

The USS ballot for industrial action begins this week, with papers going out on Wednesday and likely arriving towards the end of this week or early next.

Put simply: we need your vote

Since I wrote last week, my office has been inundated with messages of support, questions and campaign ideas. I have no doubt about the anger so many of you feel about  the employers’ proposal to remove future guaranteed pension benefits.

However we – every single one of us – need to work together to channel that anger into votes.

The law now requires at least a 50% turnout of members.  Even if there is a 100% vote for action to defend pensions, if we do not reach the 50% turnout figure we cannot take action.

Please don’t assume that this issue is such a no brainer that the union can do without your vote this time. We can’t!

At stake in this dispute is tens of thousands of pounds of your and colleagues’ retirement income.

Please, once you have voted, help us by encouraging others to vote. We need them too!

At stake is the future of our pension fund – will it be a guarantee of secure income in retirement or a lottery?

Please talk to colleagues not yet in UCU about joining, every new member adds strength to our position. 

At stake is not just the fight for a better deal for staff today, but for the next generation too.

In twenty years I have not seen a worse proposal tabled by your employers – one that will needlessly damage the retirements of thousands of individuals, leave USS benefits far behind those of school teachers and new university academics, and break the covenant between this and the next generation.

The proposal is all too typical of the leadership that exists in the sector.

They are adept at defending their own salaries and benefits but will do nothing unless pushed to defend yours.

So now we need to push.

Across UCU there is unity about the need to fight back.

One day strikes will not shift the employers. Only the threat of sustained strike action aimed at severely disrupting our universities will make a difference.

Please help us by playing your part.

When your ballot paper arrives, please use your vote and vote YES for action.

Sally Hunt
UCU general secretary

Link to branch online petition about probation and interim REF

Essex UCU branch have launched an online petition about probation and the internal REF within University of Essex on the web:


This is mainly of concern to academic staff given the issues, but we very much welcome any signatures also from non-academic staff in support. It is very important to secure the position of especially our junior colleagues on probation. The petition is self-explanatory.

It is an OPEN petition, meaning anyone who accesses the URL can sign it. Hence I will ask you importantly to PLEASE FILL IN YOUR Essex email and ask others to do the same. (The petition asks for names too so it is not a matter of anonymity.) This will allow us to track and count signatures from Essex.


Many thanks for your support