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Dundee University staff strike over pay and conditions

Members of the University and College Union are to strike over pay and working conditions at the University of Dundee (Jane Barlow/PA)
Members of the University and College Union are to strike over pay and working conditions at the University of Dundee (Jane Barlow/PA)

Staff at the University of Dundee will strike on Wednesday over demands for improvements to pay and working conditions.

Those taking industrial action are members of the University and College Union (UCU) and say employers have refused to meet their demands in the ongoing dispute.

Union members are demanding an end to race, gender and disability pay injustice, a framework to eliminate zero-hours and other insecure contracts, and “meaningful action” to tackle unmanageable workloads, as well as a £2.5k pay rise for all university employees.

UCU estimates inflation means that pay is now down by more than a quarter in real terms since 2009, with more than 70,000 academics across the UK employed on insecure contracts, that the gender pay gap in UK universities sits at 16%, while the disability pay gap is 9% and the race pay gap is up to 17%.

Staff are also striking over recent cuts to the University Superannuation Scheme (USS) pension.

Mary Senior, Scotland official UCU, said staff at Dundee and across the UK have been “pushed to breaking point”.

The day follows 18 previous occasions of strike action this academic year.

The union said university bosses are deducting 100% of pay for staff taking part in the boycott which has led to the dispute escalating to an additional day of strike action.

As well as Wednesday’s action, union members also lobbied the university court meeting on Tuesday.

Court is the body in the university which oversees how the university is run.

The strike and lobby are both being held during a week when students are going to graduation ceremonies.

The union said its members will be explaining to graduating students and their families that the strike is about the future of higher education, the value of their degree and to ensure that the establishment remains one that staff and students will want to work and study at in future years.

Despite the action from staff, UCU members said the university employers have forced through cuts to the USS pension which sees 35% cut from a typical member’s guaranteed retirement income, and they are demanding this be revoked.

Ms Senior added: “Graduations are one of the proudest days in the year for staff who give everything to teach and support their students.

“The employers’ refusal to address the issues that are blighting higher education and to allow the disputes to continue is hugely disappointing.

“Unless they take action to resolve the disputes then we’ll see more disruption into the next academic year after the summer.”