University Staff Set to Strike

Staff at St Andrews are scheduled to take strike action in response to the Universities Superannuation Scheme’s (USS) decision to cut pensions.

The University and College Union (UCU) have voted in favour of a series of strikes across the UK that will see a total of 61 universities participating, with St Andrews amongst the nine Scottish institutions planning to strike.

UCU has released a series of planned strike dates which can be found on their official website.

Photo: Study International

Though it is unclear how many St Andrews staff members have elected to strike, UCU statistics reveal that an overwhelming 90.9% of the turnout voted for strike action last month.

UCU general secretary Sally Hunt said, “Nobody wants to see disruption at our universities.”

“We are ready for talks to resolve this dispute at any time. We hope the universities will listen to their message and come back to the negotiating table.”

Under the USS’s new pension scheme, employees could be left £10,000 worse off annually, which equates to a staggering cut of £200,000 over the course of their retirement.

These cuts come at a time when tuition fees are higher than ever, and USS assets have reportedly grown by an average of 12% per annum, for the last five years.

However, many universities are happy to diminish pensions in order to facilitate investments into large building projects and Vice-chancellors are paid over six times more than the average university employee.

Photo: Sunday Post

At the end of January, the National Union of Student and UCU released a joint statement.

“We believe that the current policy of paying ever high salaries for VCs and Principles while cutting pensions for those who do the work sends a hugely damaging signal to both students and staff.”

In a staff email, obtained by The Saint, the University made their position clear.

“The University firmly believes that staff should have access to an attractive, affordable and well managed pension scheme.”

“But we are also clear that reform to the governance and management arrangements of USS is essential for any Defined Benefit scheme to be sustainable and credible going forward.”

Picket lines will be in place across the university on planned strike days and the St Andrews Socialist Society has advised students to not cross and to not attend class.

The Stand will follow up with more information as it is released.

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