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Uni rehashes out-of-date lecturers ‘to break strike’

Edinburgh University accused of undermining lecturers fighting for pensions

UNIVERSITY bosses are playing out-of-date recorded lectures to students in an effort to undermine and break staff strike action in defence of pensions.

The University of Edinburgh’s law department is using years-old recordings in place of striking lecturers, the University and College Union (UCU) revealed today.

Other universities are threatening to dock lecturers’ pay if they refuse to catch up with the backlog of teaching when they return to work.

UCU Scotland official Mary Senior said the university’s new principal Peter Mathieson had “sat on his hands” and not taken steps to resolve the dispute.

“But it’s quite another thing for Edinburgh University to be proactively taking steps to break the strike in this underhand way.”

NUS Scotland vice-president education Jodie Waite said: “The idea of serving up recordings of classes from years gone by — all in the name of undermining staff and lecturers’ campaign for fair terms and conditions — beggars belief. Staff and students deserve better.

“The only positive solution to these strikes for students is universities getting round the negotiating table and reaching an agreement with their staff — not looking for shortcuts or get-outs.”

Lecturers, support and admin staff at more than 60 universities are now mounting their second wave of strike action in defence of their pensions.

Employers’ body Universities UK (UUK) wants to sever the link between pensions and final salaries, leaving payouts dependent on the vagaries of the stock market.

UUK is made up of university vice-chancellors, whose own pensions are linked to their salaries. They are exempt from the proposals, which UCU says will cost retired staff £10,000 a year.

UCU members struck from Monday to Wednesday last week, are on strike from Monday to Thursday this week and will be out from Monday to Friday next week. They have received support for their cause from students both on the picket line and via occupations of university offices.

Negotiations between UCU and UUK resumed today through conciliation service Acas. But even as negotiations take place some university chiefs appear to be escalating the confrontation.

St Andrews, Keele, Liverpool and Kent universities have told staff that if they refuse to catch up on missed lectures, their pay will be cut — even though they are back at work.

Meanwhile, the pay packages of university heads continue to come under fire.

Steve West, the vice-chancellor of the University of the West of England, was revealed this week to be receiving a package worth £315,000 — and had claimed £43,000 in expenses.

UCU called for an “overhaul” of the university’s pay awards system after it was revealed that Mr West sits on the board which decides how much to pay him.

Edinburgh principal Mr Mathieson was revealed last month to be receiving a £410,000 annual remuneration package — 33 per cent higher than his predecessor.

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