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Inferior university pension plans must not become the norm, says UNISON

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Support staff at two leading universities are facing damaging pension shake-ups, UNISON said today (Wednesday).

The changes proposed by The University of Manchester and Staffordshire University will mostly affect low-paid female staff such as cleaners, catering staff, and administrators.

At The University of Manchester, over 4,000 employees face having their pensions cut by 20%.

The proposals would also mean that for those already enrolled in the scheme, instead of receiving a pension based on their final salary, as is currently the case, staff would have their pensions calculated on a ‘career-average’ basis.

Staff joining the pension scheme after the changes come into force will have their pensions calculated by ‘defined contribution’, so what they get out will be determined by how the scheme’s investments have performed.

Meanwhile 576 members of staff at Staffordshire University will see their pensions moved from the Local Government Pension Scheme, which promises them a specific income in retirement, to a new defined contribution scheme run by the university itself.

UNISON assistant general secretary Christina McAnea said: “This is a disgraceful move by both universities, undermining the pensions of the lowest paid.

“It is deeply concerning that two leading universities are offering their support staff inferior pension plans. We must not let this become the norm.

“These new pension schemes will leave staff struggling to plan for retirement and significantly worse off in their old age.”

Support staff at Staffordshire University will be taking strike action on 16 August. More than 400 members of staff at Manchester University have signed an online petition against the proposed pension changes.

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