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Scottish universities strike action on as employers refuse last minute talks

16 March 2011 | last updated: 11 December 2015

Students at eight Scottish universities will be hit with strike action tomorrow, despite last-minute efforts from UCU to get university employers' representatives back round the negotiating table.

Members of UCU at Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Heriot-Watt, Strathclyde, St Andrews and the Open universities will be on picket lines in protest at proposed changes to their pension schemes.
 
Members at the University of Stirling are staging a teach-in, but will join their colleagues in the other universities for a second day's action as part of a UK-wide strike on Thursday 24 March if the dispute has not been resolved.
 
The dispute centres around the employers' attempts to force through proposals to reduce pension benefits and increase costs even though USS is in robust financial health. The union said it is disappointed that the employers have refused to negotiate and even launched an eleventh hour effort on the social media website Twitter to break the impasse today.
 
UCU encouraged its followers to tweet messages to the employers with contact details for the arbitration service ACAS that the union has offered to hold talks through. However, the employers are still refusing to talk, despite a leaked letter released today that makes it clear that the employers and UCU need to resolve the dispute before any changes to the scheme can come into effect.
 
The National Union of Students has written to the employers urging them to join UCU for talks and to try and avoid strike action. There are further strike days planned for Wales on Friday (18 March), Northern Ireland on Monday (21 March), England (22 March) and a UK-wide strike day next Thursday (24 March).
 
UCU general secretary, Sally Hunt, said: 'University staff really value their pension rights and have made it clear from the start of this dispute that if the employers were not prepared to negotiate then we would be left with little option but to take strike action.
 
'Strike action is always a last resort and we have always wanted to meet the employers to avoid widespread disruptions on campus. However, both sides had to be prepared to go that extra mile and the employers clearly weren't. I share the frustration that students must be feeling at the employers' intransigence.'
 
More on the leaked letter can be found at: University pension changes cannot be implemented without deal, warns leaked letter

More information on the dispute can be found at: USS changes - key questions

* Higher Education Statistics Agency Limited 2011

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