Pension pains

March 25, 2005

Your front-page article on pensions ("Pensions crisis may threaten pay rises", March 18) failed to mention the contribution holidays and cuts to pension funds that many employers, including universities, made during the late Eighties and early Nineties. This is the main cause of the current funding difficulties for university pension funds.

The pension benefits of support staff in universities have already come under attack. It is entirely unacceptable that the lowest paid members of staff should be expected to pay for the funding mistakes of the past while lecturers' benefits are protected.

The average pension paid to a member of the Local Government Pension Scheme is just £3,800 a year. Unison is already balloting its members in universities for strike action to oppose cuts to this scheme, and it will oppose vigorously any proposals to reduce benefits in other university schemes.

Ben Thomas
Unison national officer

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