Trade unions and universities involved in the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) have reached a stalemate as the negotiating committee dismissed proposals as incomplete.
The ongoing dispute between the social partners has seen tensions rise, with industrial action threatened by the University and College Union (UCU) and pay-reductions by some employers.
However, the joint negotiating committee (JNC) – comprising independents, USS trustees and union and university representatives – saw no concrete proposals submitted at its last meeting, with the social partners to negotiate further until the next formal event in January.
A statement said: “The parties have agreed to a series of negotiating meetings between now and the next scheduled JNC to be held in January 2015.
“The purpose of these meetings is to close the differences between the stakeholders’ negotiating positions.”
The two did agree to discuss postponing industrial action until after the January date.
Proposals from both the UCU and Universities UK (UUK) have been dismissed by opposite parties.
The UUK’s reforms would see the closure of the final-salary section, shifting all members to the career-average section and a hybrid defined contribution (DC) scheme for earnings above £50,000 (€63,000).
The group said this was necessary, as USS’s triennial valuation is expected to reveal a significant deficit of around £11bn for the £41.6bn scheme.
In the UCU’s proposed reforms, the union campaigns against the use of a DC scheme and said USS should remain entirely defined benefit (DB) – although it conceded it was willing to negotiate on the removal of final salary.
USS’s final salary scheme closed to new members in 2011 with all new starters being enrolled into its career-average section.
The UCU also said it was willing to accept a 2:1 ratio for employer and employee contributions, meaning the UUK’s proposed 18% contribution for employers would be met by 9% from members, compared with the current 6.5%.
It would also agree to a cap on pensionable salary.
The Union, however, continued to argue for changes to the actuarial calculations and assumptions used by trustees, and reiterated its claims the deficit was not as bad as stated.
Employer members of the UUK had accused the UCU of working counter-productively.