University of Gloucestershire’s pension plan proposals challenged by UNISON

“Their motto is, ‘In spirit and truth’, but it seems the meaning of that may have been forgotten.”

The University of Gloucestershire has proposed changes to the way it provides pensions for staff. The proposals would see cuts to the pensions of some of the university’s lowest paid staff.

UNISON has made several attempts to engage with the university but, to date, they have refused to negotiate with the union, and despite initial assurances the university has now also indicated it wishes to change other terms and conditions.

Under current legislation, post-92 universities such as the University of Gloucestershire, have to offer directly employed staff a defined benefit pension scheme. However, the University announced to staff its intention to set up a subsidiary company to negate this requirement.

The union wrote to the university to trigger talks, with a view to avoiding an escalation in Industrial tensions. However, the university has refused to recognise the dispute.

UNISON’s convenor at the university, Joe Sucksmith, said:

“The university is deliberately seeking a way around legislation to target the pensions of the lowest paid, it’s shameful.

“Any assurances that these proposals would not impact on existing staff have been completely undermined by their immediate decision look at other terms and conditions, when they gave explicit reassurances to staff that this would not happen.”

UNISON South West regional organiser, Gavin Brooks, added:

“At this stage, it seems the university is either unwilling, or unable, to justify their decisions to us in line with their own dispute procedure. Their motto is, ‘In spirit and truth’, but it seems the meaning of that may have been forgotten.”

UNISON will now consult with union members on what the next stage will be.