University staff walks out over pensions

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Hundreds of university staff have gone on strike in a row over pensions.

Members of the University and College Union (UCU) at Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Heriot-Watt, Strathclyde and St Andrews universities are taking industrial action in protest against proposed changes to their pension schemes.

The union said the changes would reduce pension benefits and increase costs.

More than 40 staff were on picket lines outside the University of Glasgow's campus in the city today.

David Anderson, who is the UCU president at the university, said: "The dispute today is about pensions. It is an attempt to bring the employers back to the table.

"The university want to save money and the changes would mean the removal of final salary pension schemes. This would mean staff would have to pay more and receive considerably less once they've retired."

Mr Anderson said he thought around 1,000 staff would be joining the walkout at the university.

UCU general secretary Sally Hunt also joined the picket line on University Avenue in Glasgow.

She said: "Today the action affects 132,000 students across Scotland and eight universities and this will be repeated next week and nationally if we can't get the employers to sit down and talk. There will be no teaching, no lectures.

"This is a perfectly resolvable dispute and it is something our members feel very strongly about and the issue will not go away. It's their long-term pay and their right to defend it.

"We have reports of strong support today across Scotland at the universities. What we want is a reasonable negotiation. The changes proposed are not needed and not necessary. They go too far."

The second day of action, if the dispute is not resolved, is planned for next Thursday.