Urgent: We call upon Open University to resolve pension and pay disputes

To: Open University vice-chancellor Professor Tim Blackman

Dear Professor Blackman,

We, the undersigned, ask the Open University to use its strength within the sector to push for negotiations and an end to the disputes over which UCU is currently taking strike action.

Under the current changes proposed by USS, benefits are set to fall catastrophically. Many scheme members face a cut in their retirement income of 30% or more. The last few years have seen a catalogue of errors, misjudgements, and poor governance within USS. As a result of the strike action in 2018, a Joint Expert Panel was set up by the employers and UCU, and the employers pledged to abide by its recommendations. Yet the lessons from that panel and the resulting Valuation Methodology Forum have been ignored by USS.

The decision by USS to undertake a valuation at the height of the pandemic in March 2020, when other options were allowed by the regulator, has been widely criticised and is now the subject of legal action by USS  members. Martin Wolf, chief economics editor of the Financial Times, concluded (14 November 2021) that ‘the USS is more than properly funded’ and university staff ‘are the victims of unduly risk-averse decision making at the Universities Superannuation Scheme, under the influence of misconceived regulation.’

The proposed detrimental changes risk the failure of the entire scheme given they will drive members away. UCU has proposed a temporary ‘fix’ to resolve the current dispute and allow more time to develop an evidence-based valuation but the Open University rejected this out of hand on 3 February. We beg you to rethink.  As one of the largest stakeholders in USS, the Open University has a duty to lead the effort to work with UCU and to find alternative solutions. We ask you to use your position to call for a new evidence-based valuation and a reform of USS governance to end this dispute.

Salaries in HE have fallen at least 17% against inflation since 2009. And pay is not equal, as the OU’s published pay gap figures show.  As a community we want to see a pay uplift on all points, which will offer the highest proportionate benefit to the lowest paid. And we ask the university, in line with its social mission and commitment to social justice, to push the sector to commit to an action plan for closing the gender, race and disability pay gaps to zero.

The Open University has taken a national lead in moving Associate Lecturers toward permanent fractional contracts in 2022. However, a large proportion of other staff are still on short-term contracts and this figure shot up during the pandemic. Despite the health of the university’s finances, which ought to make long-term planning the norm, managers are constantly asked to hire temporary and agency staff.

As with the rest of the sector, OU staff members have had a significantly greater workload during the pandemic. Workload has been at ‘emergency’ levels since 2018 as shown in UCU’s workload survey and subsequent university ‘barometer surveys’. It has also been demonstrated through formal workload health and safety inspections by trade union health and safety reps focusing on workload. Despite this, the university stopped the joint workload working group and has over a number of years failed to ensure a sustainable staffing strategy.

Students are best supported by securely employed staff on fair pay who have can give their time and energy. The working conditions of staff are the foundation for student learning conditions. To live its values the Open University should take a leading role in pushing all parties back to the negotiating table on USS and the Four Fights, and use its clout to push for national measures to tackle pay gaps, precarious work and excessive workloads.

Urgent: We call upon Open University to resolve pension and pay disputes

To: Open University vice-chancellor Professor Tim Blackman

Dear Professor Blackman,

We, the undersigned, ask the Open University to use its strength within the sector to push for negotiations and an end to the disputes over which UCU is currently taking strike action.
Under the current changes proposed by USS, benefits are set to fall catastrophically. Many scheme members face a cut in their retirement income of 30% or more. The last few years have seen a catalogue of errors, misjudgements, and poor governance within USS. As a result of the strike action in 2018, a Joint Expert Panel was set up by the employers and UCU, and the employers pledged to abide by its recommendations. Yet the lessons from that panel and the resulting Valuation Methodology Forum have been ignored by USS.

The decision by USS to undertake a valuation at the height of the pandemic in March 2020, when other options were allowed by the regulator, has been widely criticised and is now the subject of legal action by USS members. Martin Wolf, chief economics editor of the Financial Times, concluded (14 November 2021) that ‘the USS is more than properly funded’ and university staff ‘are the victims of unduly risk-averse decision making at the Universities Superannuation Scheme, under the influence of misconceived regulation.’

The proposed detrimental changes risk the failure of the entire scheme given they will drive members away. UCU has proposed a temporary ‘fix’ to resolve the current dispute and allow more time to develop an evidence-based valuation but the Open University rejected this out of hand on 3 February. We beg you to rethink. As one of the largest stakeholders in USS, the Open University has a duty to lead the effort to work with UCU and to find alternative solutions. We ask you to use your position to call for a new evidence-based valuation and a reform of USS governance to end this dispute.

Salaries in HE have fallen at least 17% against inflation since 2009. And pay is not equal, as the OU’s published pay gap figures show. As a community we want to see a pay uplift on all points, which will offer the highest proportionate benefit to the lowest paid. And we ask the university, in line with its social mission and commitment to social justice, to push the sector to commit to an action plan for closing the gender, race and disability pay gaps to zero.

The Open University has taken a national lead in moving Associate Lecturers toward permanent fractional contracts in 2022. However, a large proportion of other staff are still on short-term contracts and this figure shot up during the pandemic. Despite the health of the university’s finances, which ought to make long-term planning the norm, managers are constantly asked to hire temporary and agency staff.

As with the rest of the sector, OU staff members have had a significantly greater workload during the pandemic. Workload has been at ‘emergency’ levels since 2018 as shown in UCU’s workload survey and subsequent university ‘barometer surveys’. It has also been demonstrated through formal workload health and safety inspections by trade union health and safety reps focusing on workload. Despite this, the university stopped the joint workload working group and has over a number of years failed to ensure a sustainable staffing strategy.
Students are best supported by securely employed staff on fair pay who have can give their time and energy. The working conditions of staff are the foundation for student learning conditions. To live its values the Open University should take a leading role in pushing all parties back to the negotiating table on USS and the Four Fights, and use its clout to push for national measures to tackle pay gaps, precarious work and excessive workloads.

%%your signature%%

1,499 signatures

Share this with your friends & colleagues:

   


Signed:
1,499 Sara Pomfret
1,498 ben board
1,497 Elizabeth Watson
1,496 Kate Bunker
1,495 Lewis Sibanda
1,494 Philip Prescott
1,493 Lisa Crawford
1,492 Harry Wilcox
1,491 Prema Sagar
1,490 Adam Rutherford
1,489 Jamie Strusz
1,488 Samantha Gall
1,487 Andreas Kuersten
1,486 Vanessa Smith
1,485 claire johns
1,484 Kate Hunter
1,483 Marialuisa Spinelli
1,482 Christine Buller
1,481 Sophie Peiffer
1,480 Jennifer Callebaut
1,479 John Newsinger
1,478 Jeremy Cooper
1,477 Lewis Mates
1,476 Olwyn O'Malley
1,475 Sarah Chyriwsky
1,474 Ezgi Kucukkilic-Stephens
1,473 Rebecca Forsey
1,472 Rosie Watson
1,471 Steve Penny
1,470 Gemma Cochrane
1,469 Ben Trupia-Melluish
1,468 Claire Maguire
1,467 Avi Boukli
1,466 Mario Rodriguez
1,465 Antonietta Parrish
1,464 bernadett dunn
1,463 Nahid Ditta
1,462 Sara Munro
1,461 Barbara Michalik
1,460 Elizabeth Parry
1,459 Gary Cannell
1,458 Jennifer Lucas-Hill
1,457 Jesita Patel
1,456 Charlotte Luckhurst
1,455 Adam Fielding
1,454 Aoife ONeill
1,453 Safia Ali
1,452 Joanna Mirek-Tooth
1,451 Jane Cobb
1,450 Mhairi Spring
1,449 Liz Williams
1,448 Daisy Niblett
1,447 Merryjean Burgess
1,446 Mark Thompson
1,445 Alexandra Parks
1,444 Stacey Preston
1,443 Virginia Boyero
1,442 Jenni Collins
1,441 Heather Klum
1,440 Qian Kan
1,439 Katie Grace
1,438 James McLaren
1,437 Sarah Scarfe
1,436 Matthew Moran
1,435 Russell Stead
1,434 John Pierre-Madigan
1,433 Marjan Ajevski
1,432 Karen Wilson
1,431 Carmel Collins
1,430 Tracy Cooling
1,429 Clare Kane
1,428 Thalia Bride
1,427 Janet Turner
1,426 Camila Silva Ribeiro
1,425 Joy Dearden
1,424 Carol Eales
1,423 Curtis Leonard
1,422 Lauren Armstrong
1,421 Ben Cleaver
1,420 Lynn Mathieson
1,419 TC O'Neil
1,418 Dawn Evelyn
1,417 Elizabeth Peters
1,416 Jacqueline Gruhn
1,415 Caroline Doran
1,414 Jon Buss
1,413 Christine Stead
1,412 LUANA BERTANI
1,411 Richard Gray
1,410 Patrick Swannell
1,409 Marian Galvin
1,408 Nightingale Debra
1,407 Sara Flemons
1,406 John Smith
1,405 Marie Thomas
1,404 Christopher Cox
1,403 Anne Lane
1,402 Sarah Meeks
1,401 John Taylor
1,400 Diane Taylor
1,399 Victoria Stead
1,398 Victoria Reina-Gil
1,397 Sabina Raileanu
1,396 Monique Ryan
1,395 Milana Alsabekova
1,394 Debra Wiod
1,393 Andy Myers
1,392 Nicola Le Gassick
1,391 Andrew Hollyhead
1,390 Karen McLaughlin
1,389 Chelsey Jay
1,388 Sebastian Soar
1,387 Hazel He
1,386 Samuel Cookson
1,385 Julia Milne
1,384 Iain McLean
1,383 Gerardine Dunn
1,382 Susan Spencer
1,381 Tyrone Donnelly
1,380 Shauna McCluskey
1,379 Tracy Rabaiotti
1,378 Rachel Sharples
1,377 Richard Sockell
1,376 Fiona Barnes
1,375 Diego Iglesias Febrero
1,374 Mark Dorrian
1,373 Thelma Ingram
1,372 Kimberley McDermott
1,371 Nicola McDougall
1,370 Peigi Macsween
1,369 Tomasz Stupnicki
1,368 Emeline BENNETT
1,367 Itziar Irigoyen Puerta
1,366 Alex Egerton
1,365 Lucy Drake
1,364 Louise Scott
1,363 Bruno Vecchi
1,362 Philippa O’Connell
1,361 Daniel Sloan
1,360 Luke Edmeads
1,359 John Williams
1,358 Mark Findlay
1,357 Fiona Duncan
1,356 Ross Hopkins
1,355 Sheraya Fourie
1,354 Darrell Reid
1,353 Kathryn Parsons
1,352 Natalie Roberts
1,351 Caroline Devine
1,350 Alex Droupin
1,349 Martin Reynolds
1,348 Francis Duff
1,347 Michael Vaughan
1,346 Bethany Rogers
1,345 Helen Wilford
1,344 Anna Bane
1,343 Maria Aristeidou
1,342 Frank Stevenson
1,341 Sandra Silipo
1,340 Lucy Wallace
1,339 Hélène Lovell
1,338 Carmen Murray
1,337 Maria Boys
1,336 Matthew Stiles
1,335 Joanna Courtnay
1,334 Michele De Broglio
1,333 Jacqui Bell
1,332 robbie bentley
1,331 Paul McMichael
1,330 John Fitzgerald
1,329 Chris Harrison
1,328 Alexander Philip
1,327 Philip O'Sullivan
1,326 Clare Wood
1,325 Anne Lebailly
1,324 Maria Leedham
1,323 Debby Hing
1,322 sharon hudson
1,321 Antonia Saunders
1,320 Clare Daly
1,319 Siobhan Campbell
1,318 Hannah Chinnery
1,317 Nicola McIntyre
1,316 Sinead Eccles
1,315 Karen Hagan
1,314 Thomas Martin
1,313 Jennifer Shepherd
1,312 Karen Kear
1,311 Leigh-Anne Perryman
1,310 Emma Barker
1,309 Angela Hamer
1,308 Kathryn Medien
1,307 Richard Greenwood
1,306 `jan currie
1,305 Aileen Brown
1,304 Amy Mason
1,303 Philip Downs
1,302 bob Watt (i am an OU pg student)
1,301 Kate Davies
1,300 Sarah Logan
1,299 Peter Devine
1,298 Giselle Tadman
1,297 Gillian Watt
1,296 Andreas Vossler
1,295 Emma McCaughan
1,294 DANIEL MCCAMPHILL
1,293 LYNN SCOTT
1,292 Evangelos Ntontis
1,291 Chris Radley
1,290 Graham Harvey
1,289 Justin Rogers
1,288 Rebecca Champion
1,287 Ian Macdonald
1,286 Matt Walkley
1,285 Jane Brown
1,284 David Gotts
1,283 Nicole Cook
1,282 James McDonald
1,281 Helen Coolen
1,280 Ashleigh-Rose Hewitson
1,279 Steven Brassington
1,278 Charlotte Guest
1,277 FRAZER PAYNE
1,276 Jessica Bartlett
1,275 Charlotte Mulliner
1,274 Sarah Armstrong
1,273 Guy Russell
1,272 Charlotte Brunt
1,271 Colum McKenna
1,270 Elizabeth Daniel
1,269 Robbie Paul
1,268 Caroline Thompson
1,267 Xaviere Hassan
1,266 Harriett Cornish
1,265 Sarah McDonald
1,264 Diana Fallon
1,263 Chris Sanders
1,262 Damian Dadswell
1,261 Chris Valentine
1,260 Rachel White
1,259 Peter Davidson
1,258 Cameron White
1,257 Lisa Hale
1,256 Vikram Mehta
1,255 Rachel Turner
1,254 Ryan McNeely
1,253 Jeanette Hall
1,252 Igor Kraev
1,251 Karen Mackay
1,250 Eric Linin
1,249 Zoe Marriott
1,248 Rehanat Kiyesola
1,247 Ian Cameron
1,246 Rob Grant
1,245 Frances Blow
1,244 Doreen Martin
1,243 Luke Moon
1,242 Fereshte Goshtasbpour
1,241 Deborah Wood
1,240 stephen middleton
1,239 Azra Culic
1,238 Romain Sacre
1,237 Charlene Butler
1,236 Andrew Cupples
1,235 Elizabeth Akehurst
1,234 Nela Smolovic Jones
1,233 Samantha Shave
1,232 Cerith Rhys Jones
1,231 john douglas
1,230 Susanna Campkin
1,229 Catherine Rolph
1,228 Noel Williams
1,227 Ela Tarnowska
1,226 Kerr Chana
1,225 Aristotelis Sourlis
1,224 Sylvia Muir
1,223 Michelle Oldale
1,222 Helen Bowes-Catton
1,221 Jeferson Araujo de Oliveira
1,220 Matthew Baptiste
1,219 Viki Soper
1,218 Yue Meng-Lewis
1,217 Despoina Filiou
1,216 Christine Brunton
1,215 Stephen Doran
1,214 George Frynas
1,213 Giacomo Carli
1,212 Louise Hunter
1,211 Claire Hinton
1,210 John Clarke
1,209 Anne Verries-Wade
1,208 Toa Giroletti
1,207 Holly Barratt
1,206 Natalie Ray
1,205 Gareth Davies
1,204 Jane Parry
1,203 Julia Cooke
1,202 Rizia Martin
1,201 Wendy Humphreys
1,200 Aaron Ward
1,199 T N
1,198 Michelle Williams
1,197 Charlotte Holman
1,196 Linda Hart-Jones
1,195 Holly Tighe
1,194 Nichols Kate
1,193 Kevin Pascoe
1,192 Alex Hutchinson
1,191 Verity Herbert
1,190 Anthony Johnston
1,189 Anitra Patrick
1,188 Rachel Goslin
1,187 dean ismay
1,186 S Hrycyszyn
1,185 Maxine France-Moon
1,184 Helen Hook
1,183 Alison Penn
1,182 Mark Brandon
1,181 Jane Bromley
1,180 Pallavi Anand
1,179 Michael Whitehead
1,178 Gemma O'Donovan
1,177 Frances Jenner
1,176 Jackie AndrewBarrett
1,175 Sarah Shelmerdine
1,174 Marie Hedon
1,173 Asrian Chur h
1,172 Maria Theresa Moerman Ib
1,171 Debbie Scott
1,170 Richard Holliman
1,169 Diane Hope
1,168 Katy Thomas
1,167 Thomas Keyton
1,166 ruth drage
1,165 Lauren Carpenter
1,164 Gillian Hinton
1,163 Mat Davies
1,162 Amy Jones
1,161 Kevin Haslam
1,160 Ellie Wood
1,159 barry patterson
1,158 Katie Hales
1,157 Ellie Jones
1,156 Robin Clarke
1,155 Page Munro
1,154 Amanda Rose
1,153 Jenni Osborn
1,152 Edwin Langley
1,151 Kate Symons
1,150 Deborah Knight
1,149 Duygu Bektik
1,148 Mustafa Bektik
1,147 Colin Chambers
1,146 Sean Scrivener
1,145 Andrew Potter
1,144 Shazia Hirschy
1,143 Alex Phillips
1,142 Katharine Julian Ryall
1,141 Andrew Curtis
1,140 Sarah-Jane Hofton
1,139 Katya Pigott
1,138 Jennifer Nesbitt
1,137 Iain Wood
1,136 Dean Hendy
1,135 Eileen Church
1,134 Nicola Tolcher
1,133 Lucy Hendy
1,132 Alison Mortiboy
1,131 Jenny Goldman
1,130 Liz Byrne
1,129 Richard Lowdon
1,128 Karen Angelosanto
1,127 Owain Smolovic Jones
1,126 Bill Alder
1,125 Wendy Chalmers
1,124 Robert Page
1,123 Mandy Moorhead
1,122 David Wield
1,121 David Evans
1,120 Hannah Lavery
1,119 Laura-Jane Leggett
1,118 Suzanne Newcombe
1,117 Claire Wotherspoon
1,116 Jackie Kleinot
1,115 Katie Cairns
1,114 Ed Krcma
1,113 Ben McKenna Slade
1,112 Kate Brookes
1,111 julie al-najar
1,110 Hazel Roberts
1,109 Aliza Russell
1,108 Alison Tucker
1,107 Julie Southcott
1,106 Nim Amrith
1,105 Nicola Ball
1,104 Andy Eagle-Weston
1,103 Hilary Koe
1,102 Michelle Amesbury
1,101 Jane Wilson
1,100 Leanne Lindsey
1,099 Laila Cryer
1,098 Leah Lynham
1,097 Karen White
1,096 Liza Barry
1,095 Callum Jones
1,094 Aaron Hayfield
1,093 Meg Hawkins
1,092 Sheetal Bharadia
1,091 Adrienne Golding
1,090 Maddie Buckland
1,089 Fiona Johnstone
1,088 Martyn Field
1,087 Alicia Townshend
1,086 Aimee Tidman
1,085 Maria Bryan
1,084 michelle aitken
1,083 Maria Ferebee
1,082 Andrew Gargett
1,081 Sandra Obradovic
1,080 Andrew Duncan
1,079 Julia Molinari
1,078 Ali Erginsoy
1,077 Natasha Dimonaco
1,076 Karen Lucas
1,075 Masa Bajc
1,074 Peadar Ó Braonáin
1,073 Ashley Carline
1,072 Frances O’Neill
1,071 Laura Hinton
1,070 Sukaina Haider
1,069 Craig Jones
1,068 Julieann Mclean
1,067 Julian Harty
1,066 Marcel Vige
1,065 Jon Hall
1,064 Anne-Marie Gallen
1,063 Lucy McGinty
1,062 Suzi Wylie
1,061 Liz Middleton
1,060 julie Buck
1,059 Alistair Daniel
1,058 Andrew Carr
1,057 Margaret Rouxel
1,056 andy elston
1,055 Poonam Dharni
1,054 Ian Howells
1,053 Lesley Howells
1,052 Deepak Sharad
1,051 Susie West
1,050 Neha Bhardwaj
1,049 Krish Sharma
1,048 Ricardo S
1,047 Gideon Brough
1,046 Janet Vary
1,045 Helen Kirkness
1,044 Maureen Sharpe
1,043 Lisa Wall
1,042 nick wall
1,041 Elizabeth Douglas
1,040 Naomi Barker
1,039 Gillian Beattie-Smith
1,038 Ish Sharma
1,037 Ekta Dharni
1,036 Winston Graham
1,035 Richard Law
1,034 Becky Devlin
1,033 Raj Meetoo
1,032 Vikash Mohan
1,031 Heidi Jerovshek-evans
1,030 Krishan Meetoo
1,029 Nimarta Dharni
1,028 Anna Sorrell-Banks
1,027 Kavita Joshi
1,026 Caroline Tagg
1,025 Archana Dharni
1,024 michelle Begley
1,023 Joe Hill
1,022 Viveke Sharma
1,021 Tina Mohan
1,020 Michelle Gee
1,019 Ajay Rai
1,018 Linda Mcpake
1,017 Kim Chin
1,016 Benjamin Bland
1,015 Kevin Biderman
1,014 Bhavesh Dharni
1,013 Vishal Dharni
1,012 Neil Stammers
1,011 Carla Benzan
1,010 Debbie Parker Kinch
1,009 Linda Wilde
1,008 Lora Scott
1,007 Clara Guillen Marin
1,006 Amanda McGarry
1,005 Hèdè Cavell
1,004 Marina Cantarutti
1,003 Katie Donington
1,002 Matthew Balme
1,001 Stephen Davidson
1,000 Valerie Pearce