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Carleton University employees are beginning job action Monday morning in defence of their defined benefit pension plan.

The Canadian Union of Public Employees, which represents some 900 administrative, technical and library staff, is arguing that the university is attempting to strip pension language from its employees’ collective agreement. “Throughout bargaining, Carleton has placed obstacles in the path to a fair deal by insisting that a new collective agreement remove our bargaining rights around pensions,” said Jerrett Clark, president of CUPE’s Local 2424.

However, Alastair Summerlee, the university’s president and vice-chanceller, said in a letter to union members and the Carleton community that it’s not intending to take away pensions or change the pension to a defined contribution arrangement.

Read: Stelco’s long battle on the pension precipice

“In the negotiations with CUPE 2424, the university is asking that specific language in the last contract be removed to ensure that all employees are paying the same contributions,” he noted.

“Contrary to some misinformation that continues to be circulated, the university is not asking for a concession. The reality is, it is unfair for any one employee group to have a veto over the pensions of all employee groups, especially when our jointly managed, independent pension committee has been so successful in protecting all Carleton employees’ pensions for more than 50 years.”

University staff and members of CUPE Local 2424 identified the protection of their pension plan as the most important issue in this round of negotiations and voted 93 per cent in favour of job action last week.

“The university says it’s trying to ensure consistent language across collective agreements at Carleton,” said Clark. “But this claim is hardly credible when you consider the wide range of agreements that cover thousands of workers at the university.

“Rights, benefits and protections vary across all collective agreements at Carleton. Unions understand and respect the rights of other groups to negotiate their own terms and conditions.”

Read: Quebec employees reject contract offer over pension issues despite eight-month strike

Copyright © 2020 Transcontinental Media G.P. Originally published on benefitscanada.com

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