Dundee City Council has voiced its support for workers on strike at the University of Dundee.
At a council meeting on Monday night, councillors agreed a motion from Labour’s Richard McCready to show support for the workers in their pension dispute.
Strike action was called after proposed changes to pensions meant the lowest paid workers could be up to 40% worse off in retirement.
At the meeting, Unite representative Sarah Browne said: “It opened a can of worms.
“Although this dispute is about our pensions, there are a lot of other things gone on in the university over the years that workers just kind of put up with and it’s all come to a head.”
James Rourke, also a Unite representative, added: “The pandemic is being blamed for this.
“In 20 years from now we might still be looking back at people who stood on that picket line who are feeling pension poverty.
“And those coming behind them will still be feeling it, while management will only increase the gap between those on the lower and higher pay.
“The people who I represent are the people who you represent.
“Most of the members that are in this scheme are Dundee people. They’re all DD2 DD3 people from marginalised backgrounds.
“These are the ones going to be affected most by this. I would like you to, if you can, support our action.”
Standing with workers
Cllr McCready asked his colleagues to support his motion to stand behind the workers who were on strike.
He said: “It’s important to think about the impact it will have on some of the poorest paid staff, who are predominantly women.
“These are people who live and work in the city so it’s important that we have a role here.
“The university is a force for good, bringing many opportunities to our wider communities.
“So it’s very disappointing to see proposals brought forward that will impact workers who are relatively poorly paid.
“We should be campaigning for dignity in retirement.”
Councillors agreed to unanimously support the motion.
In response to the latest strike action, a spokesperson for Dundee university said: “The university principal last week offered to withdraw the current defined contribution proposal and to work with the campus unions on an improved defined contribution option, as well as to fully explore defined benefit alternatives and options that retain an element of defined benefit.
“Withdrawing the current option and putting defined benefit options back on the table were understood to be the unions’ pre-conditions for recommencing discussions, but this proposed way forward was rejected.
“We remain committed to finding a solution that will provide a dignified retirement for staff while being affordable for all parties and tackling the significant issues.”