This article first appeared on DUSA Media.
Members of three unions representing staff at the University of Dundee will go on strike on Tuesday, 3 December. The University and College Union (UCU), Unite and UNISON are participating in a nationwide day of industrial action, demanding higher wages for university employees.
The walkout falls in the first week of Dundee University’s examinations period. University Secretary Dr. Jim McGeorge said in an email to all students that the University was “taking steps to ensure that exams … will take place as planned.” He added that students should turn up at the times and venues stated in the exam timetable and that the University would try to inform them about exam cancellations ahead of time.
Staff members are not required to say in advance whether they will show up for work on Tuesday.
Janice Aitken, a lecturer at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design and the President of UCU Dundee, told DUSA Media: “We do not take strike action lightly. Our members are dedicated professionals who care deeply about the education and wellbeing of students, but we have been pushed to the limit.”
She added, “Whilst we have great sympathy for students who may be worried that their exams will be affected by the strike, it is important to emphasise that no students will suffer long-term detriment because of the action. If exams have to be cancelled … the University will be obliged to reschedule them at a suitable time. This is no different than if the University had to close because of illness, health and safety concerns or bad weather.”
The Universities and Colleges Employers Association (UCEA), the body representing UK higher education institutions in pay negotiations, has offered a one-percent pay increase, which the unions have rejected as “disgraceful.” Their members have been working to contract since 1 November, meaning they don’t work in the evenings or on weekends.
In a press release, UNISON said: “The squeeze on staff pay comes at a time when pay and benefits for university leaders increased, on average, by more than £5,000 in 2011-12, with the average pay and pensions package for vice-chancellors hitting almost £250,000.”
For the academic year of 2011-12, Dundee University Principal and Vice-Chancellor Pete Downes was paid £219,000, up from £212,000 the year before. He was also paid £23,000 in pension contributions before opting out of the scheme in April 2012, according to the University’s financial statement.
DUSA Media asked the University for details on its preparations for Tuesday but hasn’t heard back by the time of publication.