Published: Wed, February 21, 2018
Worldwide | By Gretchen Simon

Aberdeen university hopes to stay open during proposed strike

Aberdeen university hopes to stay open during proposed strike

Members of the University and College Union (UCU) are angry about proposed changes to university pension schemes, which they say could cost an average lecturer £200,000 over the course of their retirement. It is staggering that the universities have refused to engage with the union and a real insult to staff and to students.

While many students sympathise with their lecturers' predicament there is growing frustration among those who are likely to be most severely affected by strikes that will last 14 days initially, with the possibility of further action during summer final exams.

Sally Hunt, the UCU's general secretary, called on universities to "stop trying to intimidate staff" and to work harder on lobbying UUK to negotiate with the UCU.

The strike will go on four weeks, with escalating strike plans.

The dispute involves proposals made by UK Universities to end benefit element of their pension scheme replacing it with a defined contribution scheme based upon stock market investment performance. Appearing on my Facebook feed, is a petition by students asking for compensation for contact hours lost.

Lecturers at 64 universities - including Oxford, Cambridge, Bristol, Durham and Exeter - are to go on strike over a four week period, in a row over changes to staff pensions.

Members of the University and College Union (UCU) will walk out on Thursday February 22 as a wave of strikes hits 64 universities across the UK.

UCU said that its mandate for strike action is valid for six months.

He said: "We believe high-quality pension arrangements are a significant part of the benefits available to our employees".

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He said: "We respect tutors' right to strike and they deserve a fair deal".

"After careful consideration, we have agreed on a voluntary and ex gratia basis that we will pay 75 per cent of a day's pay each day to those staff who participate in action short of a strike that breaches their contract, but who continue to carry out all other contractual duties", she said. There are already demands for refunds in anticipation of strikes scheduled for Thursday and Friday.

Striking staff will be on picket lines at the entrances to their universities from 8am.

Speaking to the media today, the UCU union boss said she did not think students suing universities was the answer to the problem.

One of the "teach-out" co-ordinators, Dr Alison Cameron states: "University staff are very aware of the University's deep roots in the community and the sacrifice made by local people, especially the quarry workers, who made regular financial contributions to establish the University". Thank you for the messages on social media and those to your individual staff - they really do mean so much.

Undergraduate Education Officer Lulah Strathearn Brady publicly supports the upcoming industrial action set to take place in late February.

"We doubt any universities want a prolonged dispute that carries on towards exam season and would urge vice-chancellors to put pressure on Universities UK to get back round the table with us".

UUK said the changes were necessary to put the pension scheme, the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS), on a sustainable footing for the long term.

"We can not condone strike action created to cause disruption to our students and we will appeal to staff to be cautious in their support for this approach".

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