University staff will fight pension plans 'as long as it takes'

Row over plans for a new pension scheme has lasted more than 560 days.

Dundee University staff will fight pension plans ‘as long as it takes’ STV News

University staff have vowed to take industrial action “for as long as it takes” in a row over pensions.

The dispute at Dundee University, which sees staff oppose being moved to a new scheme, has now lasted more than 560 days.

Unions say the new pensions, which will start in January, will see workers lose up to £5,750 per year after retirement.

Affected staff include technicians and estate-based jobs such as plumbers.

Student services worker Jennifer Cameron said: “I will be out here for as long as it takes. Management says they’ve drawn a line, but we’re out here on the picket line.

“They can ignore us, we’re not going to slink back to our desk. We’re here. We’re open to negotiation, we’re open for discussion, they just need to come out and talk.”

Workers, union reps and politicians gathered outside Dundee for a rally on Thursday. A series of demonstrations have taken place over the last few weeks by members of unions Unite and Unison.

They said there was no end in sight to the industrial action and urged university management to table a fresh offer.

Stuart Fairweather, chairperson of Dundee Trades Union Council, said: “This is certainly one of the biggest and longest-running disputes in Dundee in recent years.

“It looks set to continue unless management come back to the strikers with a reasonable offer that considers an improved pension.”

University administrator Anne Anderson, who has worked at Dundee for nearly 40 years, said she feared for her colleagues, even though she won’t be affected by the changes.

She said: “Those that come after me or those who take their pension in a year or two, whenever it might be, will be getting a good bit less than what I’m getting.

“I’ve got to work part-time to boost what the pension scheme is already paying me. One of the university’s strategies has always been staff welfare – this is not looking after staff welfare.”

Dundee University said its governing body made a final decision last month to implement the changes.

A spokesperson for the university said: “We have strived throughout to offer accessible, flexible and sustainable pensions for all and have made significant changes to the original proposals in response to consultation with staff and the campus unions.

“A final decision to implement the changes has been made by the University Court and we will be moving forwards on that basis.”