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No end in sight to pensions row

All in the same boat: support staff held a seafront rally demanding decent pensions for everyone - Photo: Tom Wills

All in the same boat: support staff held a seafront rally demanding decent pensions for everyone - Photo: Tom Wills

The university’s highest governing body has approved plans to close the final salary pension scheme to new support staff.

University Council rubber-stamped the plans at its meeting at the Thistle Hotel, Brighton, while technical staff held a rally opposite the hotel on Brighton seafront.

Technical staff were holding their fourth day of strike action in opposition to the pensions changes.

A union representative said they were disappointed that Simon Fanshawe, chair of Council, had refused to meet a delegation from the campus community to hear their concerns over pensions. They had collected three thousand signatures from other staff and students in support of their campaign.

The union is calling for the university to keep open the final salary scheme for all staff. Under the new regime, support staff will be offered a more financially risky ‘defined contribution’ pension scheme, the value of which is vulnerable to economic conditions.

Mike Robinson, a national officer for Unite, told the seafront rally: “The Vice-Chancellor is not worth the money in his name. He’s not worth a shilling, he’s not worth a ha’penny, he’s not worth a Farthing!”

Final salary pensions are increasingly under attack across the country. Tory leader David Cameron has said they would be phased out by a Conservative government. Cameron told the Greater Manchester chamber of commerce last week: “My vision over time is to move increasingly towards defined contribution rather than final salary schemes” for the public sector,” according to the Financial Times.

A spokesman for David Cameron told the FT that the Conservative leader was merely outlining “the direction of travel” – the party had not yet “ruled any option in or out.”

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