The Courier & Advertiser (Perth and Perthshire Edition)
University staff vote on strike over pension changes
Staff at the University of Dundee are being balloted for industrial action to fight off the closure of their pension scheme.
The staff members have rejected plans they say will leave some workers 40% worse off in retirement, and lead to “retirement poverty”.
Members of Unison will vote by post from today in order to meet the legal threshold for strike action.
The university is proposing to shut down a pension scheme for staff such as cleaners, administration workers, and caterers.
Union officials say this means those on the lowest wages could see retirement funds slashed by up to 40%.
Meanwhile, higher-paid staff, who are enrolled in a different scheme, will be unaffected.
Unison regional organiser Mo Dickson said: “Unison members at the University of Dundee have kept the organisation going throughout the pandemic. They have rightly rejected the proposal to close their pension scheme which would lead to most of them retiring into pension poverty according to the definition of the Joseph Rowntree Trust.
“The university’s own figures estimate the plans could see workers up to 40% worse off. The proposals will have a devastating impact on ordinary Dundonians and have long-term economic implications for the wider community.
“The university appears to be trying to rush through this change without any attempt at negotiation. We have called on them repeatedly to halt this process and avoid the inevitable disruption to student life that strike action will cause.”
Lorcan Mullen, Unison Scotland’s higher education lead officer, said the move was “outrageous”.
A spokesperson for the University of Dundee said a consultation scheme has been “significantly extended”.
“We appreciate that members of staff have concerns over proposed changes to existing pension arrangements and there is now an agreement in principle for the consultation process, which had been due to run until May 14, to be significantly extended to ensure the views of all current and eligible members of University of Dundee Superannuation and Life Assurance Scheme (UODSS) and the campus trade unions can be considered before any decisions are made,” a statement said.
“The benefits members have already built up within UODSS are protected and will not be affected by proposed changes. We are committed to offering competitive pension options which offer a dignified retirement for staff.”