Together we will hold the USS directors to account

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Our pensions aren’t saved yet! A very conditional win and what we need to do next

20 March 2023

Our aims

We’re suing the directors of USS, the £80bn university staff pension fund, to save university pensions and divest fossil fuels. We’re going to the Court of Appeal in June 2023. We need you: donate to help us win!

University staff’s pensions were cut on average by 35% in 2022 (see the £1000s you lost in this modeller), and are still invested in gas, oil + coal despite climate risks and damage.

Our aims are:

  1. Legal responsibility. The USS directors must be held personally responsible for the damage they’ve caused: they’ve breached their duties under the Companies Act 2006 by failing to act for proper purposes, wasting money, and acting against university staff interests.
  2. Enhance pensions. From April 2022 to 2024, the directors’ cuts will cost scheme members £7000 each, and the harm continues. In April 2022, USS managers assumed fund assets would grow at 0.29% p.a. above CPI inflation for 30 years, predicted a nonsense “deficit”, and used this as a pretext for cuts. Since we took action, the failed CEO Bill Galvin resigned, a new growth assumption of 1.8% p.a. has been used, and surpluses have been reported. All benefits, past and future, must be restored, and our pension rights must be enhanced.
  3. Protect equality. The USS directors’ cuts put women, young people, and minority groups at a particular disadvantage. USS published no equality impact assessment. The directors must abide by the Equality Act 2010, and end their discriminatory attacks on university staff.
  4. Stop the squander. While driving mass cuts, the USS directors super-inflated operating costs from £40m a year in 2010 to £160m a year in 2020: spent on asset manager fees, and shiny offices for themselves. This cost inflation must be reversed, and USS managers must invest our money prudently, or get out.  
  5. End climate damage. USS directors failed to divest fossil fuels, even though gas, oil and coal have been the worst performing asset class, they have no future, and USS members said they want to divest in 2020. Fossil fuels are stranded assets and risk significant financial detriment. USS needs a credible plan to divest and vote our shares in all companies to achieve 100% clean energy, now.
  6. Credible governance reform. We need a USS board that is majority-elected, not one where crony failures appoint each other. Currently there are 4 UUK, 3 UCU, and 5 ‘co-opted’ directors who represent City cronies, banks and fossil fuel interests. The directors amended the USS rules in 2019 so that only the directors could remove themselves. But it is our money, not theirs, and it is paid for with our work. USS directors must be majority-elected by us.

How you can help

Donate to the crowdfund
We need to raise about £200,000 before the Court of Appeal hearing on 13 June 2023. The average donation has been £41. Every little helps, so please support us. Together, we’ll win!

Union branches: ask colleagues + pass motions to support and publicise!
The Oxford, UCL, Glasgow, Bristol, Warwick, Liverpool, Exeter, Durham, Swansea, Royal Holloway, Lancaster, Bangor, and Ulster branches have all very generously provided further support for this stage of the legal action. If your branch has not already donated to this round of the action, please do ask colleagues to support us, and send a motion to your local branch to directly donate to the crowdfund. This is a quick and highly efficient way of supporting the case – see our model motion here.

Union members: get Ewan and Neil to visit your branch!
We are more than happy to come to talk to colleagues! Ewan and Neil can come to your branch meetings, in person or by Zoom, to present the case and answer questions from members. Just write to and/or and we’ll arrange something!

Follow us + share
Follow us on Twitter, and share the link to the crowdfund. The more people that hear about this, and what we can achieve together, the better!

Spread the word
As academics and university staff, we have extraordinary strong networks of colleagues across the sector. Please spread the word by sending this model message to colleagues and/or your local UCU branch.

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What our members and donors are saying

“Thank you for fighting for our pensions, our future and our planet. Together we can win.” — Ramona

“The whole organisation is corrupt, run by people completely disconnected from the reality of most members’ lives. It’s time to take them down.” — Ellie

“Very many thanks for all your hard work – you’ve already achieved so much, now let’s go to the next level!” François

“We’re going to win this thing.” — Peter

Contact us

Whatsapp: +33605111914

London School of Economics
International Relations Department