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University staff and students take pensions protest to Holyrood

University and College Union (UCU) members are taking action in a dispute with Universities UK.

University staff and students rallied outside Holyrood on Thursday as a row over pensions continues.

Members of the University and College Union (UCU) in 10 Scottish universities are taking 14 days of action.

The rally coincided with the ninth day of escalating strikes that began on February 22. Staff are also due to be on strike all next week.

The dispute centres on proposals put forward by Universities UK for changes to the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS).

Employers argue the pension scheme is £6 billion in deficit while the union says the proposals would leave a typical lecturer almost £10,000 a year worse off in retirement.

Speakers at the rally included UCU Scotland official Mary Senior, Jodie Waite, vice-president of education, National Union of Students Scotland, and MSPs Gillian Martin, Iain Gray, Ross Greer and Willie Rennie.

After the event, a delegation of UCU members were due to meet with the further and higher education minister Shirley-Anne Somerville.

Ms Senior said: “It is fitting on International Women’s Day to acknowledge that proposals to cut pensions will affect all staff, but they will hit those in the pension scheme on the lowest incomes most. All too often that means they will affect women most harshly.”

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