Bangor University pension protest

Members of public sector union, UNISON Cymru/Wales, have promised a loud and colourful demonstration for affordable pensions for Bangor University support staff today (Thursday 15 September).

University support staff from cleaners, to security workers and administrators will gather at 12.30pm at the Memorial Arch by the campus Portio building to protest that low paid workers will be penalised if the university imposes a hike in member pension contributions.

UNISON is very concerned that higher contributions will mean lower earners will be forced to leave the pension scheme and this will jeopardise its viability. The university has ignored UNISON’s request to wait until there is a proper analysis of the pension scheme at the scheduled valuation in 2017.

The union recently drew attention to the £228,000 salary of the Bangor vice chancellor and accuses the university of double standards on terms of employment by rewarding only the highest earners. Last month, BBC Freedom of Information figures showed 17 members of staff at Bangor University earned more than £100,000 last year. Yet, 245 support staff at Bangor University are on zero hour contracts, which deprive workers of basic employment protections, regular guaranteed earnings and trap people in poverty. Additionally, the union said the university spent £122,686 on agency workers in 2014-15.

UNISON organiser Geoff Edkins said,

“Support staff deserve a decent pension like everyone else yet Bangor University is penalising lower earners. Pensions are deferred earnings and our members are critical to keeping Welsh universities running; they support the lecturers, maintain the buildings and look after the students. Rather than imposing increases in pension contributions in such a high-handed manner, it is sensible for the university to wait until the valuation in 2017. If there needs to be changes, let’s have fair negotiations at that time. Our claim is for decent pensions for all, regardless of their salary.”

Photo credit: Robert Parry Jones