Dundee University’s principal is is facing calls to come to the Scottish Parliament to answer questions about controversial pension changes.
North East MSP Mercedes Villalba says Professor Iain Gillespie, principal and vice-chancellor at the university, must also explain a “failure” to seek a settlement with trade unions.
Some staff plan to hold a demonstration against the proposed changes outside Holyrood on Thursday.
What changes are being made to pensions?
The University of Dundee Superannuation Scheme, which is only available to the six lowest pay grades, is being partly replaced by a privately administered scheme.
The change has already been agreed by the university court and will come into force on January 1 next year.
Unite estimates some pensions will drop from £20,100 a year to £14,400 as a result.
Ms Villalba previously wrote to Professor Gillespie accusing the university of agreeing to these pension changes without working with union leaders on a compromise.
In that instance the university wrote back to her to confirm the decision will not be reversed, and disputing her claims it had “derecognised” the unions.
Last week it was revealed former Scottish Labour leader Wendy Alexander will receive a salary increase of at least £10,000 for her role at the university.
Ms Alexander now earns at least £170,000 – £35,000 more than First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.
Senior management not held to account
Ms Villalba now says “given the seriousness of this dispute”, Professor Gillespie, along with the campus trade unions and Higher Education Minister Jamie Hepburn, must appear in front of Holyrood’s education committee to explain why the pension changes were made.
She has written to the committee urging them to insist they come to Holyrood.
In her letter she said: “I believe the university’s failure to seek a negotiated settlement with its employees’ trade unions puts it into conflict with the Scottish Government’s fair working strategy.
“However, despite this issue having been raised repeatedly in parliament, the Scottish Government has so far failed to hold senior management to account.”
Union backs calls for Holyrood appearance
Susan Robertson, from Unite the Union’s Dundee branch, wants to make sure her members are in the same room to hear Professor Gillespie’s explanation.
She added “nothing is moving” from the university on this issue.
Ms Robertson said: “He is just putting down pleasantries and hoping people will go away.”
University defends decision
Dundee University says it has “always been open to discussions” with the trade unions and said suggestions to the contrary are “simply untrue”.
A spokesman added the decision to change the pension provision was made after 18 months of discussions with staff and the campus union.
“Over that time the university revised and changed the proposals considerably from what was originally put forward, with significant extra investment in the scheme,” the university said.
“We are moving forward with implementation of the changes which will ensure affordable pensions available for all staff, including those who could not afford to join the existing scheme.”
A spokesman for the Scottish Government added: “The Scottish Government has no direct role in determining the pensions of those who work in universities, but industrial action is in no-one’s interests.
“We expect the university and the unions to work together to make every effort to resolve these issues quickly and minimise disruption to students.”