Angry University workers to stage last-ditch protest at pensions cuts

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ANGRY staff at the University of Sheffield will gather on Monday to ask their bosses to think again about pension changes.

Trade unionists will attend the University’s Council meeting at Firth Court to protest over changes to pensions which they say will place the institution’s lowest paid staff in poverty after retirement.

But university bosses insist the changes from the former University of Sheffield Pension Scheme to the new cash balance option are necessary to keep the scheme financially sustainable.

However, the unions say the move - which closes the defined-benefit scheme to current as well as future staff - will halve the previous typical £7,500 annual pension for support staff earning £15,000 a year.

The unions say staff on grades 5 and above - including vice-chancellor Keith Burnett who received a pay and pension package of £311,000 last year - will retain their current pensions.

Members of UNISON voted unanimously to continue to oppose the cash balance scheme and are asking managers to consider a compromise scheme known as SAUL.

Started as the University of London Pension Scheme, SAUL now has more than 50 universities as members.

The unions say SAUL offers benefits which are broadly similar to ones offered by the former USPS scheme which would reduce the financial risk the University is exposed to, while offering staff a decent retirement.

The unions have written to individual Members of the University Council to invite them to ask for an adjournment of Monday’s meeting and come outside to talk to workers about their concerns..

UNISON branch secretary Stuart Anderson said: “Our members are furious about what has happened to their pensions.

“The University was founded with the idea of benefiting Sheffield and Sheffield people.”

He added: “What the University is doing now will push Sheffield people into pensions poverty, and is falling far short of attaining the civic virtues The University of Sheffield once stood for.”