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Scottish universities face eight days of strike action from Monday

University College Union members will also take other industrial action, such as not covering for absent colleagues.

Union members at the University of Edinburgh are among those due to go on strike (Jane Barlow/PA)
Union members at the University of Edinburgh are among those due to go on strike (Jane Barlow/PA)

By Conor Riordan, PA Scotland

Workers at 12 Scottish universities are to go on strike for eight days amid rows over pensions plus pay and working conditions.

University College Union members will take to the picket lines on Monday after no agreement was reached with academic institution representatives.

The disputes centre on changes to the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS), with the union claiming there has been a failure to make improvements on pay, equality, casualisation and workloads.

Mary Senior, UCU’s Scotland official, said: “Strike action is always the last resort but universities’ refusal to deal with the key issues of increased pension costs, pay and working conditions leave no alternative.

“It is unbelievable that universities have not done more to work with us to try and find a way to resolve these disputes

“We’re asking students to call on university principals to get their representatives back to negotiating table for serious talks.”

The Scottish members will be joining those from another 48 universities across the rest of the UK.

Across Scotland, 78% of UCU members polled voted for strikes over changes to USS pensions and 73% backed strikes over pay and conditions.

As well as eight strike days, union members will begin “action short of a strike” from Monday.

This involves things like working strictly to contract, not covering for absent colleagues and refusing to reschedule lectures lost to strike action.

There will also be a rally on Monday starting at 1pm in Bristo Square, Edinburgh.

We will continue to talk with the UCU, as we have done over the last 18 months, on a joint and fair solution to this pensions dispute Carol Costello, on behalf of USS employers

A USS spokesman said: “We recognise the difficulties in levying higher contributions but USS, along with all similar pension schemes, faces a challenging environment in which the costs of funding high-quality defined benefits have increased dramatically.

“We are in no doubt that higher contributions are required to ensure the valuable promises our employer and member representatives are making can be kept.”

Carol Costello, speaking on behalf of USS employers, said: “Many USS employers and scheme members want to see changes to the USS valuation methodology and scheme governance ahead of the next valuation in 2020.

“Under pensions law, the scheme needs more money to keep benefits at the same level – which has always been a key demand of the UCU.

“Many institutions will not be able to afford a higher share of the contributions and the costs and risks of this scheme are shared equally by all.

“We will continue to talk with the UCU, as we have done over the last 18 months, on a joint and fair solution to this pensions dispute.”

The universities affected are Heriot-Watt University; the University of Aberdeen; the University of Dundee; the University of Stirling; the University of Edinburgh; the University of Glasgow; the University of St Andrews; the University of Strathclyde; Glasgow Caledonian University; Glasgow School of Art, Queen Margaret University, and the Scottish Association for Marine Science.

PA

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