South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth was out today (Monday 12th) to support the action being taken by members of the University and College Union (UCU) to stop cuts to their members pensions.
The local MSP joined union members and supporters at their picket line at the Crichton University Campus and took the opportunity to urge Universities UK to drop plans that could see lecturers lose on average £10,000 a year in retirement.
Under the changes the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) will change from a defined benefit scheme, giving members a guaranteed income in retirement, to a defined contribution scheme, where pensions are subject to changes in the stock market.
Speaking at the picket line Colin Smyth MSP said:
“Whilst senior management and Chancellors at some of our universities are receiving huge pay increases, it is the workers on the ground who are seeing their benefits being removed".
"Some of the staff have contributed to their pension pot for decades but are now being told what was promised to them won’t be delivered due to planned changes. Not only is this an attack on existing staff but will simply act as a deterrent to people considering applying for jobs in the future. If the Universities get away with these changes it will simply encourage others to do the same and we will have a race to the bottom when it comes to staff terms and conditions".
"That’s why I fully support the action taken by UCU Scotland and all other staff members and trade unionists who are fighting to protect education and the terms and conditions of the staff who are so vital to our universities and colleges".
"There wasn’t a single person on the picket line who wanted to be there. Everyone would rather have been in the university teaching, but they feel they have no choice but to oppose those cuts".