Hundreds of staff strike over pensions row

Hundreds of staff members at the University are holding the first of two planned strikes today over an ongoing row about changes to their pension scheme.

Members of the Unison and Unite unions have walked out after top bosses passed changes which could slash the pensions of the lowest earning staff by 50 per cent.

The proposals will see the pension scheme closed for the lowest paid members of staff, while the pensions of other staff will be protected.

Unison national officer Ben Thomas said the proposals are “a disgraceful attack on the mainly female low-paid workers in the university.”

He said: “the move to close the final-salary scheme for existing members sets a dangerous precedent for the higher education sector.”

The low-paid staff losing their current final-salary scheme will instead be offered cash a balance scheme that is likely to halve the pension benefits they receive.

The university is offering no protection for members of the existing university scheme and is closing the scheme to future accrual.

In a statement issue by the Student Services Information Desk (SSiD) to all students said: “The University will be open on both days of proposed industrial action. Although there will be limitations to some services, the University will do its utmost to minimise the impact on students.

The SSiD email said that exams and other assessments will continue as planned and students will be notified if changes will be made.

A spokesperson for the University of Sheffield said: “The rising risk and cost of the University’s local pension provision meant that the University’s pension scheme was no longer sustainable and affordable.

“In addition, only a small minority of eligible new employees were choosing to opt into the scheme, with almost 50 per cent of staff on grades one to five not in a pension scheme at all.

“The University also believes that the new scheme will be attractive and affordable to all members of staff.”

The second one day strike will take place on June 10.

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