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UCU strikers to rally at Holyrood on International Women's Day

STRIKING university staff and their supporters will hold a rally at the Scottish Parliament tomorrow afternoon to demand a resolution to the pension dispute.

The University and College Union (UCU) organised the rally as part of ongoing strike action taking place at 10 Scottish universities over planned changes to staff and lecturers’ pensions.

At the rally, held on International Women’s Day, UCU Scotland official Mary Senior will draw attention to the fact that proposed pension cuts will “hit those in the pension scheme on the lowest incomes most. And all too often that means they will affect women most harshly.”

She will say that given the “significant gender pay gap” in higher education, which sees a woman academic earning £6,000 a year less on average than a male counterpart, the proposed cuts will “hit [women] disproportionately hard.”

After the rally, a UCU delegation will meet the Scottish government’s minister for further education, higher education and science, Shirley-Anne Somerville.

Tomorrow marks the ninth day of escalating strikes, which began on February 22, and will culminate in a full week of strikes from this coming Monday.

Striking workers have received widespread support from students both on the picket line and through occupations of university offices.

Lecturers and support and admin staff at more than 60 universities across Britain are fighting proposals by employers’ body Universities UK (UUK) to sever the link between pensions and final salaries.

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

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