Low paid support workers at Bangor University, incensed by their employer’s proposal to downgrade their pensions, are to hold a demonstration at 12pm on Tuesday 7 May, outside the Main Arts building on College Road, Bangor.
UNISON has organised the rally to coincide with a University executive meeting to decide whether to cut pension benefits by up to 12 per cent for clerical workers; I.T. staff; lab workers; cleaners; caterers; security staff and more. The pensions of Bangor’s higher paid staff, such as lecturers and executive managers, will not be affected.
The staff trade unions have provided the University with a viable alternative which allows them to save costs while protecting members’ pensions but pension trustees have ruled this out.
Wendy Allison, UNISON Cymru Wales regional organiser said,
“Bangor support staff are lower paid and already have pretty meagre pensions. The University is threatening to make them poorer in retirement whilst protecting the pensions of higher paid staff. The discrimination is horrible. All the support staff want is to receive the same respect as their academic and management colleagues. They are fed up of being treated like second class employees.
“Staff have promised to resist the changes. They will be making plain their anger with a loud and colourful demonstration and we’d like Bangor students to join our call for fair pensions for all.”
“UNISON wants the trustees to look again at the unions’ proposals rather than attack the pensions of hundreds of dedicated University employees.”
Notes for editors
Bangor is proposing to reduce the employer contribution rate to the pensions of only its lowest paid staff and attack 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. It argues the university’s analysis of the pension scheme is flawed and based on outdated assumptions. The trade union is angry its own suggestions to resolve the situation without affecting the pensions of Bangor support staff, have been rashly dismissed by the university.
UNISON has learned the University received over 50 responses to a recent pension consultation from members as well as responses from the trade unions. UNISON says this shows the strong feeling amongst the workforce that the changes are unfair.
The executive boards of universities in Wales are set for a democratic overhaul following a decision by Welsh Labour conference in April. Delegates passed a UNISON-sponsored motion calling on Welsh government to ensure more diverse governing bodies which include elected chairs and mandatory student and staff representatives. UNISON says greater democracy would work to prevent universities treating support staff as second-class employees.
Alastair Gittins, UNISON Press Officer on 07816 538397