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Scholars on strike

David Woods , 17 Oct 2008

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Staff at the University of Sussex are on strike today over proposals to shut its final salary pension scheme.

Trade union Unite claims the university is shutting its current pension scheme to new members but will "force up" contributions for employees and decrease its employer contributions into pension pots.

The University of Sussex denies this, claiming staff contributions will only rise from 7% to 9% over the next three years, while employer contributions will rise as well from 19.5% to 24.6%.

Management at the university participate in the national Universities Superannuation Scheme and are safe from the changes other staff will face. Mike Robinson, Unite national officer, said: "Management's pensions are safe, but the university is trying to force detrimental changes on other staff to create a three-tier workforce. Our members are determined to defend new starters rights to a decent pension and to stop the erosion of their existing scheme."

Although the university will close its final salary scheme to new members, it says it will double what it puts into pensions by 2012 from £2.2 million to £4 million.

A spokeswoman from the University of Sussex said: The university is acting responsibly to protect local pension provision at Sussex. We need to make sure provision is affordable and sustainable.

"The university has been engaged in a very tough process of consultation with pension members as well as a very thorough process of consultative workshops and subsequent negotiations with the recognised trade unions on proposed pension changes."

Unite claims it has been attempting to make contact with university management since 27 August.

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