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UK universities and Scottish colleges hit by strike motion over pay and pensions


Nearly each college within the UK and faculty in Scotland was hit by strikes on Thursday, as industrial unrest over pay and pensions spreads throughout the training sector.

Some 70,000 college staff are staging three walkouts this month in what their union has described as the biggest co-ordinated motion within the sector’s historical past. Scotland’s training union, in the meantime, closed colleges within the largest nationwide strike because the Nineteen Eighties.

The industrial action comes amid mounting unrest throughout the general public sector at below-inflation pay rises and pressure throughout the training system, already beneath stress from tight budgets.

Throughout the nation, employees at 150 universities walked out in motion that the College and School Union mentioned might have an effect on 2.5mn college students.

UCU members will even strike on Friday and November 30, in an escalation of a years-long dispute over pay and pensions. The row has resulted in weeks of walkouts since 2018, however that is the primary time motion has occurred throughout all universities, somewhat than being referred to as by particular person college branches.

Jo Grady, UCU normal secretary, blamed the motion on the “woeful” sector management. “Workers are burnt out, however they’re combating again,” she mentioned. “They’ve had sufficient of falling pay, pension cuts and gig-economy working circumstances.” 

The union has demanded a “significant” pay rise, after employers supplied a rise beginning at 3 per cent regardless of inflation final month hitting a 41-year excessive of 11.1 per cent. It has additionally referred to as for a reversal of cuts to retirement advantages, made to plug a deficit within the sector’s pension fund that emerged as markets crashed on the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.

Universities UK, which represents employers, mentioned college students have been “nicely ready to mitigate” the impression of strikes and that it had supplied employees the “very best” retirement advantages.

In Scotland, colleges have been closed on Thursday after the principle educating union this month voted overwhelmingly in favour of strike motion.

Andrea Bradley, normal secretary of the Academic Institute of Scotland, mentioned members “actually didn’t wish to be on this place”. However she argued that they’d been “pressured” to strike by the refusal of the Scottish authorities and Cosla, which represents councils, “to make any enchancment” to their supply of a 5 per cent pay enhance.

Following last-minute talks on Wednesday, the EIS rejected a revised supply of 6.85 per cent for the lowest-paid academics, saying it amounted to a median 5.07 per cent enhance. The union is asking for a ten per cent rise for all members.

Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s first minister, on Wednesday mentioned her authorities had put ahead a “truthful and cheap” pay rise for all public sector employees, at a time of “sky excessive inflation”, that surpassed offers supplied to employees in England.

“We’re working not simply inside a hard and fast, however a closely constrained price range,” mentioned Sturgeon.

Academics in colleges throughout the remainder of the UK are balloting for strike motion, which is predicted to happen subsequent yr.

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