So USS. It strikes me that this was, in the end, a total and avoidable mess and the UCU should take a lot of responsibility.
The only way to find out what was going on was to check a friend of a friend’s facebook page. The only campaign resources were, well, whatever you came up with. The tactics were hopeless – the marking boycott never had strong support in the school I’m best informed about and not really anywhere else, and it had a number of real flaws, notably that only a handful of individuals were actually involved at any one time and that the timing meant most students wouldn’t be affected. The negotiating team seems to have been overawed by the issues involved and poorly prepared.
Further, the stand-down over Christmas seems to have been a bad idea, losing whatever momentum the campaign had built up. In part this was just going to be imposed by the Christmas break itself, but the problem is that it wasn’t a credible proposition to call everyone out again, and therefore it didn’t support the negotiators effectively. To be honest we might have done better as an amorphous online mob, but of course a lot of the work here is being done by UCU’s failure.
So now we’re stuck with the mad-headed scheme to hedge poor returns on gilts by buying yet more gilts, the gender and other problems of a CRB scheme, no answers about the AVCs, and a weakened union.
This is important, as it seems there is still some give about the length of the recovery period and therefore the annual wedge of money involved, the fate of the AVCs and added years, the management of the defined-contribution element, and the all-crucial valuation.
One thing the UCU did achieve was a commitment, for what it’s worth, that the USS benefits and contribution rates would be revised again if the finances improved significantly. This means it is well worth while keeping the valuation issue alive, and keeping the claim on any future improvement this represents alive.
Your ration of campaign material, therefore, is here, in a rather technical piece of Mike’s. The key issue is that Test 1 must die.
OK, that’s the long-term element. What about the short-term? Well, voting is now open for the UCU national executive committee, until Friday 27th February. (If you’ve not got a ballot, make a fuss, because the organisation sucks!) The UCU Left recommendations are here – I don’t warrant for them in any way (for example, does anyone believe they’ll reopen the dispute?), but the first step is always to chuck the bums out.