Safeguard final-salary pension 1

October 26, 2007

Your account of University UK's report on the future of the sector's pension arrangements ("Final-salary pension in peril", October 19) contains some worrying features. Much of UUK's report seems to be based not on real actuarial information on the soundness or otherwise of the two schemes, but on an entirely predictable desire on the part of universities to shift costs to employees.

It is not the schemes that are threatened but the employers' willingness to pay their proper share. In short, UUK's survey of its members is little more than the opening salvo in an attempted pay cut.

Perhaps more revealing, however, is UUK's honesty in admitting that modern work practices in the university sector are dominated by "part-time working and short-term contracts". Indeed! The scandal of insecurity of employment in higher education, comparable to levels in the catering industry, is well known. That it should be so proudly announced as the norm and used as a pretext for an attack on decent pensions is to say the least disappointing, though sadly not surprising.

Alastair G. Hunter, Vice-president (HE), University and College Union

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