Mid Wales

Aberystwyth University staff balloted for strike action

Aberystwyth University campus (arts centre)
Image caption The pension proposals will be decided by the university's council on 20 June

Unions representing staff at Aberystwyth University will ballot their members on strike action.

Unions say the move follows university proposals to close the current pension scheme and replace it with a "significantly inferior" alternative.

Unison claims its members could see their pensions cut by as much as 65%.

Aberystwyth University has been asked to comment. The institution is holding a consultation on pension provision changes until 5 June.

The unions, including Unison, Unite and the University and College Union (UCU, have called on the university council to rethink the plans before it makes its final decision on 20 June.

'Dictatorship'

The unions' ballots will close on 13 June.

Simon Dunn, Unison organiser, said: "Student numbers have been falling, as has the university's ranking in the higher education sector.

"This attack on the terms and conditions of the staff will not make the university a better place to work and it certainly won't make it a better place to study."

The strike action threat is the latest problem to beset the university in recent years.

Last year the University and College Union (UCU) claimed the institution was being run like a "dictatorship" after two staff at the university-run Aberystwyth Arts Centre were suspended.

UCAS - Universities and Colleges Admissions Service - figures show that student applications to the university dropped 21.5% between 2011 and 2013 and the number accepted to study there dropped 23.5% during the same period.

The institution also dropped from 50th to 88th in the The Guardian University League Table between 2011 and 2013.

Mr Dunn said: "Our members should not be expected to pay the price for problems that the university faces, whilst senior management in the university enjoy performance related pay increases.

"We urge council members to think long and hard before they agree to these changes which represent the biggest attack on staff pensions in any university in Wales."

Wynne Ebenezer, Unite branch chair, said the changes would hit the lowest paid university staff.

He added: "We will end up with the higher paid staff having a decent pension, and the rest being offered a poor alternative."

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