University plunging workers into ‘pension poverty’

Unite Scotland can confirm today (10 August) that its members at the University of Dundee will take part in continuous strike action from the 25th August 2022.

Unite Members supported taking further strike action by 83 per cent in a ballot turnout of 66 per cent.

The dispute stems from the University’s decision in March 2021 to propose the closure of the Defined Benefit Pensions Scheme to Grades 1-6 and replace it with a Defined Contributions Scheme, meaning the lowest paid workers would lose up to 50 per cent of their pension, plunging them into “pension poverty”.

Following 11 days of strike by Unite Members in October 2021 and the support of local Councillors and MSP’s, the University withdrew their proposals for a Defined Contribution Scheme and Unite went back into talks to explore all Defined Benefit options.  Frustratingly we have seen insufficient movement by the University.

The proposals would see some workers in the proposed scheme pensions drop from £20,100 to £14,400 per annum. This is a massive drop of £5,700.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “Unite Members have already rejected the Defined Contribution proposals and have been left with no choice but to now reject the Defined Benefits proposals as these will still leave hundreds of workers at the University worse off in retirement. Despite months of feet-dragging by the University we are no further forward. Our members have Unite’s full support in the defence of their pensions and strike action is now firmly back on the cards”

Unite regional officer Susan Robertson said: “The University’s proposals would mean Unite members work longer, pay in more and receive less in retirement which is totally unacceptable. These are the lowest paid workers at the University and deserve to be treated fairly. The University’s own draft Equality Impact Assessment shows that Women workers and Young workers will be disproportionally affected yet they are hell-bent on proceeding.”

University Court meets on the 25th August to decide whether or not to endorse these proposals. Unite would urge Court to do the right thing and reject them and get back to serious and meaningful negotiations to end this dispute finally.