UNISON have expressed their anger at plans by Bangor University to cut the pensions of its clerical workers, including I.T. staff, lab workers, cleaners, caterers and security staff.
The union has promised to resist the changes and says that by targeting non-academic staff, the University has “shown how little it values the role of support workers”.
The University is proposing to reduce the employer contribution rate to the pensions of its lowest paid staff and reduce the benefits they receive. There are no plans to reduce the employee contribution rate. The university claims the measure is a result of increasing pension costs.
UNISON says the pension scheme is performing well and running at surplus and argues the university’s analysis of the pension scheme is flawed and based on outdated assumptions. The trade union is angry that its own suggestions to resolve the situation without affecting the pensions of University support staff, have been “rashly dismissed” by the university.
Wendy Allison, UNISON Cymru Wales regional organiser, said: “It’s pretty shabby to cut the pensions of only your lowest paid staff. The prestige of the university is built by all of its employees but Bangor is treating support staff as second-class employees.
“Pensions are deferred wages which people have worked hard to receive. We will not allow the university to plunge employees into financial difficulty in their retirement.
“Bangor staff were already reeling from the news before Christmas that 60 jobs will go and now the university has doubled their misery.
“Bangor executives are ploughing ahead with all sorts of important decisions without listening to staff or their unions. We want to be included and have practical suggestions to resolve the pension situation without the need for such drastic action.
“UNISON will defend university jobs and decent pensions for all and we will continue to argue for the best possible services for students.”
A spokesperson for Bangor University said: “The University is committed to offering a sustainable level of future benefit to its staff through the Local Pension Scheme.
“The changes proposed in this consultation will enable the University to continue to provide a very competitive local pension scheme and although changes need to be made, they will only affect future benefits.
“The proposed changes only relate to pension that is earned after the date any changes are implemented, and do not affect anyone that has already retired or left.
“Given the increases in costs of such pension promises and longer life-expectancies, the University has been in discussions with representatives from Trades Unions since last July to explain this situation, and has now made a proposal to its members which is currently being consulted upon.
“The University is open to alternative suggestions about how the affordability gap can be addressed, and looks forward to further discussions with unions and staff over coming weeks.”