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More strikes at Dundee University announced amid pension row

Dundee University employees protesting at City Square last month.

Staff at Dundee University have announced strike action will continue later this month.

Unison union say more industrial strike action will go ahead by members at Dundee University on October 25 and 26.

Finance workers will get involved for a week and mailroom workers will strike for two weeks, both from October 27.

Dundee University protestors at City Square.

It comes as the battle continues between staff and the university over pension scheme changes.

Unison union took action at the end of September where members protested against the proposals at City Square, which was followed by a week of strike action.

Unite union strikes

The further strike action aligns with Unite Scotland’s movement as members unanimously voted last week to strike from October 25.

Members claim the university’s decision to close the superannuation scheme and to replace it with a cheaper, “inferior defined contribution” scheme will likely make it the “worst higher education scheme in Scotland”.

Unison says the proposal will disproportionately affect low paid women and staff with disabilities and will leave staff in “pension poverty”, with some workers losing up to 40% of their pension in retirement.

Members of the Unite union during a Dundee University protest over pension changes.
Dundee University Unite members will also be striking from October 25.

Unison branch secretary Phil Welsh said: “Our members are absolutely determined to continue fighting this proposal.

“Unison members have already taken five days of strike action and will continue until university management start to listen.

“Unison has put forward several compromise proposals which would share the risks and costs of future benefits.

“Our members welcomed a visit to the picket line by the principal and members explained how these proposals would affect them personally.

“Members, however, are disappointed that the principal has failed to come back to the unions to offer a meeting where a real alternative proposal can be discussed.

Unison members striking against pension schemes last month.

“Our members have worked to keep the university functioning throughout the pandemic.

“They want to assist students and do so every day. Any further disruption caused is regrettable but can be laid firmly at the door of the Principal, Iain Gillespie, who is failing to take control of this situation.”

Pension poverty

Unison regional organiser, Mo Dickson, said: “Local and national politicians support our members against these attacks and have urged the Principal to get back around the negotiating table to discuss a credible alternative, including a defined benefit scheme, which doesn’t throw our members in to pension poverty.

“Instead, the university seems preoccupied with engaging costly contactors to provide workers to undermine the strike action. In addition, the proposed defined contribution scheme has some serious failings from an equality’s perspective.

“It’s now over a week since the Principal met our members who continue to feel let down and undervalued. This issue isn’t going away.”

Uni ‘open to further discussion’

Last week Professor Iain Gillespie, principal and vice-chancellor of the university, faced staff on the Unison picket line where he vowed to continue a consultation over the plans.

A spokesperson for Dundee University said: “We are still hopeful the unions will come back to the table soon for further discussions regarding the proposed changes to the local University of Dundee Superannuation Scheme (UoDSS).

“The University has at no time refused to engage with the unions, and we are very much open to further discussion within the consultation period, which was extended at the unions’ request and continues to 14th November.”

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