University of Dundee workers ballot for pensions strike

Unite members at the University of Dundee are to be balloted for strike action following the rejection of revised pension proposals.

Over than 100 workers will now participate in the ballot which will run from Monday until June 10 with industrial action likely to commence with the beginning of the new academic year in September.

The dispute stems from the University of Dundee’s proposal in March 2021 to close the Defined Benefits Pension Scheme to Grades 1-6 and replace it with a Defined Contributions Scheme.

The changes mean that a worker with twenty years’ service stands to lose around £1,600 each year in retirement. The proposal would also disproportionally affect female workers who make up 70 per cent of the current scheme’s existing members.

The University’s latest proposals have been met with an emphatic rejection by Unite’s members in a consultative ballot by 94 per cent.

Unite’s members backed strike action in October 2021 but postponed taking further action after the University of Dundee agreed to remove the defined contributions proposal.

The University now proposes to keep the scheme open but close it to new entrants. In addition, the revised proposals include increasing the retirement age from 65 to 68 and the scheme’s accrual rate from 1/80ths to 1/100ths.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: Unite’s members have emphatically rejected these proposals which would leave hundreds of workers at the University of Dundee worse off in retirement. Six months of feet-dragging by the University has only stiffened our members’ resolve. They have Unite’s full support in the defence of their pensions and strike action is now firmly back on the cards.”

The workers include technicians, administrators, student support staff and estates staff such as plumbers, joiners and electricians.

Unite industrial officer Susan Robertson said: “The mandate and turnout in our recent consultative ballot over the pension proposals is stronger than it was last October when our members took strike action. This is testament to the anger and resentment our members feel because they have been strung along for months by the University’s management. Our members have had enough and are ready to take action again.

“Unite’s door always remains open for meaningful consultation and negotiations but if there is no movement by management then they should prepare for long-term disruption starting in the new academic year.”

The pension consultation remains open but the proposed changes are scheduled to come into effect from January 2023.

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