Do the maths to solve pensions time-bomb 2

January 14, 2010

Regretfully, many staff in higher education have already witnessed the end of final-salary pension schemes ("Warning sounded on final-salary pensions", 7 January).

Institutions such as the universities of Birmingham and Sussex have frozen access to final-salary pensions for support staff and others are seeking to pre-empt the outcome of the USS review by attacking support workers' pensions.

It is clear that the increasing cost of pensions is a serious issue for the sector and must be addressed. However, any solution requires a strategic approach to ensure long-term security for all. It should not be the case that the pensions of the lowest paid suffer the most.

The Equalities and Human Rights Commission has already expressed concern at the approach that some higher education institutions are taking to pension reform and the disproportionate impact this is having on the academy's predominantly female support staff. A clear lead is required from Universities UK and the funding councils to ensure a fair solution for all staff in the sector.

Ben Thomas, National officer, Unison

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