University of Manchester staff vote to strike over pension cuts

Around 89 per cent of staff at the University of Manchester have voted for strike action over plans to cut and close their pension scheme in a consultative ballot organised by Unison.

A formal strike ballot will now open today (Friday) and strike action could take place in December.

Over 3,000 current scheme members are in line to lose out, as the changes could cut their retirement incomes by 20 per cent.

These include cleaners, catering staff, security staff and administrators, along with future employees who would no longer be able to join the DB pension scheme.

For example, a security guard earning £22,000 would lose £1,375 per year in retirement, while a cleaner on £14,000 would lose £875 per year.

Labour MP for Ashton-under-Lyne, Angela Rayner, is “deeply concerned” by the proposed changes.

She commented: “It is especially worrying if the lowest-paid staff, mostly women, are being targeted for the worst cuts, and I want to be clear that we stand with them in demanding fair treatment at work and security in retirement.

“I urge the employer to think again, and get back round the table with trade union representatives to find a solution that protects their staff and makes sure that the university continues to provide an excellent education.”

The changes would reduce the retirement income further for staff who are promoted during their career, as it would involve staff pensions being calculated on a ‘career-average’ basis.

Furthermore, the DB scheme would be closed to new members and replaced with a DC scheme.

University of Manchester student support officer, Holly Knight said: “It’s the new starters who I feel most sorry for. They won’t be able to join the same pension scheme as the rest of us, so their future will be a lot riskier.

“I hope the university will look again at these cuts and keep the scheme open. The staff feel very strongly that this is wrong. We might not be lecturers, but we do important jobs in the university and I don’t think they should be attacking our pensions.”

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