University staff are up in arms

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Sheffield University is forcing its lowest paid staff to give up their pension scheme while, cynically, their managers and academic staff hang on to their own more favourable scheme.

The locally-based USPS scheme has run up a £50 million deficit – no fault of members. But the university is going to transfer responsibility to the members themselves. The new scheme will provide a lump sum to purchase an annuity at retirement, replacing a pension based on a percentage of salary. As everyone knows, annuity rates are rock bottom and many recently reaching retirement have had expected incomes halved.

What sticks in the throat is the way the university senate prevented union representatives from putting the low paid workers’ case to them and how senate members have clung onto their own pensions with the same benefits as those they are forcing their low paid colleagues to give up.

No wonder university porters, maintenance and clerical staff in the USPS scheme feel betrayed by the University.

Michael Peters

Sheffield Beat

I READ the other day that Johnny Depp is to appear in a film based on Hunter S Thompson’s the novel, The Rum Diary. Thompson wrote the book in 1959, aged just 22, and had not been able to get it published. It hints at a character based on Jack Kerouac. Depp was asked to appear in an advert reciting passages from On the Road! Isn’t it timely that an interest in the beat/beatnik ethic should have taken place recently as part of Sheffield’s Off the Shelf literacy festival.

Steve Davis, Totley

Join a union

The public sector fought long and hard to achieve a fairly modest income and a good pension for a hard day’s work. Workers in the private sector have to accept if they are to do the same then they need to grow a backbone and join a union. Nobody says the private sector shouldn’t have a pension just like the public sector. But workers from both sectors deserve a fair income and decent pension. This is about people suffering while fat cats squeeze us all dry. Get yourselves in a union and stand up for yourselves!

PJ Cawkwell, private sector worker, Conisbrough