Pete Downes: Change your stance on the UCU pensions strike
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We, the Students of the University of Dundee, have made this petition to underline the egregious mismanagement of staff pension affairs by Universities UK (UUK), of which you, Mr. Charles Peter Downes, stand here as representative.
We stand fully in solidarity with the strike action taken by the University and College Union (UCU).
Under the proposed terms of the University Superannuation Scheme (USS), staff across the UK risk losing between £ 129,000 and £ 208,000 in pension claims, assuming that these staff have paid into the scheme for 30 years1.
Under the current scheme, present university-related staff looking to retire in the coming 10 to 30 years, will suffer losses of between £ 35,000 and £ 131,000 in pension benefits2.
As a director of 2 non-profit organisations (Design Dundee Limited and The Saltire Foundation) both of which are engaged in fostering Scotland’s future, particularly in the areas of business and education, it is difficult to harmonise your strong stance against staff, who impart said education upon students, whilst the mission statement of Design Dundee Limited states clearly that one of its objectives is “To advance education and research”3.
You have had no issue accepting a pay hike that has seen your salary increase in a mere three years by a whopping £40,000, increasing from an already handsome £220,0004 back in 2015 to a hefty £260,0005 at present. This does not account for the lavish additional perks that come with your position.
How do you explain this paradox when facing colleagues in meetings advising them to accept the cuts, which you have stated to be inevitable, for whom low salaries and pension cuts are becoming an existential fear, while you live a life of luxury?
We feel the UUK, the Court and yourself have not provided enough transparency and information in these matters to ensure students are properly informed about the situation and there has not been a bona fide approach taken by the UUK, the Court or yourself, as principally responsible person for these matters, to find a resolution to the dispute and alleviate the staff’s financial, psychological and physical stress.
Our demands are the following:
- That you, as Principal of the University of Dundee and a representative of the UUK, change your stance in support of the striking staff.
- That the University of Dundee and all its affiliates become living wage accredited employers.
- That staff wages withheld by the University of Dundee are placed in a Discretionary Fund. The funds should only be used to pay the staff retrospectively, should they be forced to reschedule any missed work, or if this is not possible, be paid into the student hardship fund.
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