Storm brews over UniSuper
The National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) has demanded amendments to existing superannuation agreements to ensure that employers pay shortfalls in superannuation to avoid extensive cuts to the 80,000 employees in the higher education sector.
The NTEU has threatened industrial action over the insecurity of Unisuper’s defined benefits scheme. Many of those who joined the scheme believed any shortfalls to superannuation contributions would be met by employers, but now seems that employees will have to meet the demands or face cuts to their retirement funds.
The union has made the following demands
- Requesting the UniSuper Board to convene a national meeting of all stakeholders with a view to agreeing on changes to the UniSuper Trust Deed to ensure that any changes to UniSuper Defined Benefit scheme arrangements do not involve reductions to employee benefits, and allow for the Board to consider other options.
- Proposing to remove university employers as the sole shareholders of UniSuper’s Trustee company – which currently gives employers the right to ratify (and therefore veto) the appointment of UniSuper Board Directors – as part of a wider review of UniSuper governance and consultation processes.
- Using the upcoming 2012 Collective Bargaining round negotiations to pursue these matters if a proper stakeholder consensus cannot be developed.
“The real problem that needs to be dealt with is what measures should be taken if any Defined Benefit Fund shortfall persists. Until 2006 the UniSuper Trust Deed provided that employers could be called upon to meet such a shortfall (but only if all individual universities and higher education institutions unanimously agreed) and also contemplated a possible reduction in benefits. Following the 2002-2003 early warning, it became obvious to the Board that there was no current or future prospect of ever achieving unanimous employer support to meet any shortfall,” NTEU General Secretary Grahame McCulloch said.