Scottish university staff back strike action

Staff at Glasgow University were among those polled. Picture: Donald MacLeod

Staff at Glasgow University were among those polled. Picture: Donald MacLeod

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UNIVERSITY staff at a number of Scottish institutions have backed industrial action in a row over pensions.

The University and College Union (UCU), which balloted members across the UK, said more than three-quarters (78 per cent) of those who voted in the recent ballot supported strikes while 87 per cent were in favour of action short of walkouts.

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This could include marking boycotts - a move that could potentially affect hundreds of thousands of students.

The union balloted members who are in the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) at 69 institutions. Turnout for the ballot was 45 per cent.

The nine Scottish institutions where UCU members were balloted were Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Heriot-Watt, St Andrews, Stirling, Strathclyde universities and the Scottish Association of Marine Science, part of the University of Highlands and Islands.

The union said proposed changes to the USS have been prompted by an expected deficit in the pension scheme, but it claims the process used to work out the deficit is too simplistic and does not take into account the strengths of the scheme.

UCU said talks are planned with university employer representatives on Wednesday, and if the proposals continue to go ahead then union officials will meet on Friday to discuss what form the industrial action should take.

The ballot informed members that voting for action would most likely lead to a marking boycott and refusal to set exams, the union said, which would mean students would not be set coursework, have work marked or receive feedback. It could also halt exams.

UCU Scotland official Mary Senior said: “UCU members have made it quite clear today that they reject the radical changes being proposed for their pensions. We will go into talks on Wednesday hopeful that we can resolve the current impasse.

“However, we will go into that meeting with a serious mandate from members that they need to see real improvements. If the employers do not address our concerns then we will meet on Friday to determine what forms of disruptive action we take and when they would start.”

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