MOST Scottish universities are to be rocked by strike action this year as the academics’ union announced a blitz of industrial action across the UK.

In total, 140 universities will be affected by strikes, with 12 universities affected in Scotland.

Staff members at eight of the Scottish universities will strike in sync with universities in England and Wales for five consecutive days from September 25.

Another four will strike on different dates to “coincide with local action by other unions”.

The dispute centres on pay and working conditions with the University and Colleges Union (UCU) accusing employers of failing to pay staff “their fair share”.

The union said an imposed pay rise for this year was worth 5% for most of its members.

But the UCU has also said it will drop a marking and assessment boycott which started in April and added the union would begin re-balloting its members at universities over industrial action, warning this will allow it to escalate the dispute by taking further action this year and into 2024.

Staff are continuing other forms of industrial action, including working to rule, not undertaking any voluntary activities, and not rescheduling lectures or classes cancelled due to strike action.

UCU general secretary Jo Grady said: “We are left with no option but to strike during the start of term because our members refuse to stand by while pay is eroded and staff are shunted onto gig-economy contracts.

“It is shameful that vice-chancellors still refuse to settle the dispute despite a year of unprecedented disruption, and have instead imposed a pay award that staff overwhelmingly rejected.

“Universities are richer than ever, generating tens of billions of pounds in income and hoarding billions more in cash deposits, but they won’t give staff their fair share.

“A pay award of 5% is a huge real-terms pay cut and is substantially lower than school teachers received.

“We have sought to settle this dispute at every opportunity, including agreeing to a joint review of sector finances, but we are faced with employers that want to see staff and students suffer.

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“We desperately hope vice-chancellors realise we are going nowhere without a fair settlement and make us a realistic offer. If they do not, campuses will be marred by picket lines during freshers’ week, and we will launch a new strike ballot allowing us to take action well into 2024.”

The union is seeking an above inflation pay rise, saying that pay has fallen inn real terms by quarter since 2009.

In response to UCU’s announcement to end the marking and assessment boycott Raj Jethwa, chief executive of the Universities and Colleges Employers Association, said: “UCEA welcomes the vote by UCU members to end the marking and assessment boycott.

“There is now an urgency for UCU members who had participated in the boycott to prioritise marking for those remaining students who have still not received the necessary results to graduate in 2023-24.

“It is, therefore, disappointing that, at the same time as ending the boycott, UCU is attempting to inflict maximum damage before its mandate expires, by calling strike action for late September.

“UCU is intentionally seeking to target the important welcome weeks which many institutions provide during this vital time for new students. It is disappointing that UCU seeks to disrupt welcome weeks instead of providing support for new students.

“UCU must now seriously reconsider this response from their members as their HEC (executive) tries to launch another ballot for industrial action for the new academic year.

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“Nevertheless, UCEA welcomes UCU’s acceptance of our proposals for independently-facilitated talks on a review of sector finances and further talks on the important pay-related matters raised by the UCU and the other unions.”

Scottish universities strike dates are as follows:

Monday 25 to Friday 29

  • Aberdeen University
  • Abertay University
  • Edinburgh University
  • Edinburgh Napier University
  • Glasgow School of Art
  • St Andrews University
  • Stirling University
  • University of the West of Scotland

Other universities:

  • Dundee University will strike from Wednesday, September 20 to Friday, September 22 and again from 25-26 of the month.
  • Glasgow Caledonian University will strike from Monday, September 18 to Thursday September 21 and again on Monday, September 25.
  • Glasgow University will strike from Monday, September 18 and Tuesday, September 19 and again from 26-28 of the month.
  • Strathclyde University will strike on Monday, September 18 and Tuesday, September 19 and again from 27-29 of the month.