Highlands and Islands Green MSP John Finnie has expressed his support and solidarity with striking university staff at the Scottish Association for Marine Science (SAMS) in Oban, and across the country, in the Scottish Parliament today (22/02/2018).
The University and College Union (UCU) is currently in dispute over proposed changes to the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) which could see members lose up to £200,000 in retirement, and Mr Finnie raised this matter with the Scottish Government at General Question Time.
The proposal from the employers’ negotiating body, Universities UK (UUK), to end defined benefits within USS would effectively transform the scheme from one with a guaranteed retirement income to a defined contribution scheme where pension income is subject to changes in the stock market. UCU general secretary Sally Hunt has said that the proposal is “the worst offer she has seen from employers in 20 years”.
Mr Finnie said:
“I express my solidarity, and that of the Scottish Green Party, to my constituents at the Scottish Association for Marine Science UHI in Oban and all those UCU members across the country who are on strike. I am also delighted to see the support offered to striking university staff by the NUS. It is good to see students and staff stand in solidarity for fair terms and conditions.
“The UCU has stated that changes to the pension scheme could see members lose up to £200,000 in retirement, describing this as the worst offer from employers in 20 years. That is clearly unacceptable.
“I was pleased to have the opportunity to raise the issue with the Minister for Higher Education in parliament. While there is no direct role for the Scottish Government, I stressed the importance of Ministers using their influence with UUK and Scottish University Principals in order to ensure meaningful talks resume in an effort to resolve the situation.”