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‘Meaningful’ pay offer urged as university staff stage third day of strikes

UCU members staged a rally outside the Scottish Parliament (Neil Pooran/PA)
UCU members staged a rally outside the Scottish Parliament (Neil Pooran/PA)

The union representing striking academics has said employers need to make a “meaningful” offer on pay and pensions, as they walked out for their third day of industrial action.

Thousands of university staff joined strike action on Wednesday, affecting 17 universities across Scotland.

The University and College Union (UCU) says members’ pay has lost 25% of its value since 2009, while cuts have reduced their expected pension income by 35%.

UCU members gathered in a rally outside the Scottish Parliament on Wednesday.

The strike action is taking place across the UK, though university leaders are meeting with union officials on Wednesday to discuss pay and conditions.

Further talks will take place on Thursday around pension arrangements.

Ahead of the rally, UCU Scotland official Mary Senior told the PA news agency: “Our members are particularly angry about the way that their pay has been held down, losing 25% of its value since 2009.

“They’re also incredibly frustrated and angry about their pensions being cut.”

Employers have said the union is seeking an “unrealistic” pay increase of 13.6%.

Responding to this, Ms Senior said: “We think that the employers can do better, we know they can do better.

“This is a sector that employs university principals on six-figure salaries.

“Here in Edinburgh, the principal earns over £400,000 a year.”

She said some universities are spending money on “vanity projects”, such as Glasgow Caledonian’s campus in New York.

Ms Senior said employers should increase their “paltry” offer of a 3% uplift in pay, as well as improve conditions for those on “precarious” contracts.

She added: “We’re open to what the employers have got to say.

“They need to come forward with it, with a reasonable and a meaningful offer to address the issues that our members are in dispute about.”

Several MSPs spoke at the UCU’s rally outside Holyrood.

The SNP’s Kaukab Stewart said she has been supporting striking workers on the picket lines.

She told the rally she is doing everything possible to “support continuing talks and an offer that is respectful and fair”.