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Five-day Strikes Begin at Scottish Universities

Posted by Calum Martin in , ,

Image courtesy of Flickr, Creative Commons

Strikes have started at 11 Scottish universities over the working conditions, pay and pension of staff.

The five-day walkout that has been initiated marks the third round of strike action this academic year. Members of the University and College Union (UCU) have already held 10 days of walkouts between 14th Feb and 2nd Mar as well as 3 days of industrial action that took place last December.

Estimates produced by the UCU suggest that staff wages have dropped by a quarter since 2009. When this is compounded with the pension cuts, the retirement income for a typical member of the union is approximately 35% lower. A £2,500 pay rise is being asked for by union members to contrast the wage drops.

Some of the universities participating in the protests include Dundee, Edinburgh, Glasgow, St Andrews, Stirling, Strathclyde, Edinburgh, Napier, Glasgow School of Art, Herriot-Watt, Queen Margaret and the Open University.

Some institutions are only taking action on the pension issue, whilst others are only disputing the issue of pay and working conditions.

General secretary of the UCU, Jo Grady commented on the matter, accusing university bosses of "pushing their own staff to breaking point".

Grady added; "Vice-chancellors and principals across the UK have the power to end these disputes. The money is there to pay staff properly, tackle punishing working conditions and reverse pension cuts that will devastate retirement incomes."

The union are calling for university employers to revoke cuts to pensions and re-enter negations. A spokesman for the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) has defended the decision, claiming that guaranteeing inflation-protected pensions was "much more expensive today than in the past".

A spokesperson for Universities UK, an advocacy group for UK universities has criticised the protests suggesting that employers were at the "limit of affordability".

They added: "Scheme members should ask themselves whether they are willing to sacrifice even more to pay higher pensions "contributions based on UCU's unsubstantiated view that another valuation will yield a better outcome"