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fanf

The University and College Union are spammers

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23rd Sep 2010 | 11:35

The Universities Superannuation Scheme is currently in the process of changing its terms and conditions from a final salary pension scheme to a career average scheme. Unsurprisingly the UCU are campaigning against this.

The last two nights they have been spamming university staff with a campaign mailshot. (They tried to send us 3450 messages last night and 650 the previous night.) The mailing list they are using is VERY dodgy. At our site more than 9% of the addresses are invalid, and 1% of the addresses are role addresses that should not be receiving the kind of confidential personal information that a union might send to a member.

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Comments {15}

Kate

from: antinomy
date: 23rd Sep 2010 11:45 (UTC)

I hope they've been at least temporarily blacklisted for this behaviour?

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Tony Finch

from: fanf
date: 23rd Sep 2010 11:47 (UTC)

Sadly I think enough of the recipients want to receive it that I can't reasonably block them. I can, however, complain loudly...

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kötturinn

from: kotturinn
date: 23rd Sep 2010 11:47 (UTC)

Probably worth taking this up with the local UCU branch. It's quite possible a tranche of the addresses were supplied by them. Also I wonder if they harvest when they have these 'tell us what you think' votes/whatevers on the web site.

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Tony Finch

from: fanf
date: 23rd Sep 2010 11:56 (UTC)

I will do that.

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oldbloke

from: oldbloke
date: 23rd Sep 2010 12:00 (UTC)

Furrfu, glad I got out while it was still a FS scheme!

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Tony Finch

from: fanf
date: 23rd Sep 2010 12:03 (UTC)

AIUI the change is not backdated, so contributions up to the end of this tax year remain under the final salary scheme. Could be worse.

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Arnhem

from: arnhem
date: 23rd Sep 2010 13:08 (UTC)

If I've correctly understood the USS web site, people currently in the scheme remain as FS, as long as they stay in the scheme.

People joining (or re-entering) the scheme will be CA.

The employee contribution for FS will be 7.5% , while the employee contribution for CA will be 6.5%

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Arnhem

from: arnhem
date: 23rd Sep 2010 13:06 (UTC)

Entirely out, or in deferment?

If the latter, then you should still be concerned.

There are two aspects of the proposal that are utterly evil:

1) yearly increases to pensions in payment to be the _lower_ of CPI or 5%

2) yearly increases to pensions in deferment to be the _lower_ of CPI or 2%

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Andrew

from: nonameyet
date: 23rd Sep 2010 21:56 (UTC)

As I understand it nothing has changed about the USS (the pension scheme) yet.
The employers have said what they want the USS to become.
The unions have said that they don't like it, why and have asked
for a ballot of the pension fund members.

The employers have refused to ballot the pension fund members.

The UCU has offered to run a ballot and the USS trustees have said that they will take note of this ballot (very much AIUI).

However the only reliable lists of pension fund holders (as opposed to union members) belong to the employers and they are refusing to make them available. Thus the union are forced to use some dodgy lists to contact likely pension fund members.

The term "spam" as commonly used has an element of "in the eye of the beholder"; the technical term used in the trade is UBE "unsolicited bulk email". Now if the employers had agreed to a ballot and posted out ballot papers that would have been unsolicited bulk paper mail and no-one would have objected.
Come to think of it, I never asked for a pay slip - so that is UB(PM) too. Should the (internal) postman refuse to deliver it ?

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Tony Finch

from: fanf
date: 24th Sep 2010 08:21 (UTC)

If your email address is not used in compliance with the DPA, then it is spam. (This is what the union should be worried about.)

That rule of thumb doesnt cover all spam: If they are compliant but they gave your address to third parties for marketing, then that is also spam.

Your request for a pay slip is implicit in your request to be paid.

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Andrew

from: nonameyet
date: 24th Sep 2010 08:52 (UTC)

Your request for a pay slip is implicit in your request to be paid.

OK. So double-opt-in is not required, and I have a right to ask (demand?) payroll not to send me a pay-slip.
The university pension's office have written to me about the proposed changes to the pension scheme. I don't see why the members rep on the pension board doesn't have the same implicit right to contact me about these changes.

I'm no longer able to resist the urge to mention that a role address in our department recently received a pay-slip. I *believe* it was part of a payroll run, so that is unsolicited bulk paper mail to a role address. Should the messenger service have blocked it ?

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(Deleted comment)

Millibrachiate Tentacular Coelenterate

from: nja
date: 23rd Sep 2010 19:16 (UTC)

Thing is, the UCU represents employees on the USS board, but the scheme isn't restricted to UCU members (and since single status, many USS members will belong to other unions). The referendum is aimed at members of the pension scheme (anyone at grade 6 or above at my institution, IIRC), not at members of the union.

(Edit: which doesn't excuse spamming, but it does mean whoever is doing this won't just be trying to contact union members.)

Edited at 2010-09-23 07:29 pm (UTC)

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Tony Finch

from: fanf
date: 23rd Sep 2010 22:31 (UTC)

If they are trying to contact people who aren't union members then it is DEFINITELY spam. A mailshot to all union members would be OK, but if that is what they were doing then their all-member list is not competently maintained.

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Steven J. Murdoch

from: sjmurdoch
date: 26th Sep 2010 12:00 (UTC)

I received this email, which was rather a surprise given that I have had no dealing with UCU as far as I know. I certainly am not a member and never have been. I am not sure how they found out my address, but the one which they used is on my homepage (as well as many other places), so crawling it would not be implausible.

That said, I did find the content interesting, so while I object to the method I didn't feel like complaining.

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