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David Robertson reports
"The unions say this is unprecedented action"
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Education correspondent Ken Macdonald
"This is the starter's gun for a whole set of industrial action"
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Peter Humphries, employers' association
"Details of this new money are not yet known"
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Tuesday, 5 December, 2000, 08:01 GMT
University staff in protest
Lecture theatre
Lecturers say they face increased workloads
Thousands of university staff have joined protests across Scotland to demand a better deal on pay and conditions.

Rallies took place in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Dundee and Aberdeen on Tuesday to mark the start of a nationwide campaign.

The lecturers and support staff were protesting against what they described as low wages and increasing workloads in the higher education sector.

But employers said they have offered all they could afford - and that extra government cash would not be available until next year.

Strike picket
A one-day strike was held in March
The rallies were organised by teaching unions, including the Association of University Teachers and the Educational Institute of Scotland; and support staff unions Unison, the T&G and the Manufacturing, Science and Finance Union.

The unions said that the protests were aimed at demonstrating the strength of feeling among university workers.

They warned that, if their demands were not met, they would step up the fight by urging members to work to rule, banning overtime and withholding exam results.

They asserted that the institutions have refused to modernise working conditions and attempted to impose a 3% pay offer across the board.

The only people who have ignored the recommendations have been the employers, who want to continue the exploitation

Carol Judge, Unison Scotland
Carol Judge, Unison's Scottish organiser, said: "Staff and students are incensed by the employers' refusal to modernise conditions, pay realistic wages and attempts to destroy national bargaining.

"Pay is low across the sector both for support staff and lecturers, and workloads have increased by 90%.

"An independent inquiry (the Bett Inquiry) recognised this, the government recognised it and has allocated an extra 100m for Scotland over the next three years.

"The only people who have ignored the recommendations have been the employers who want to continue the exploitation. It is now time for justice."

The chief executive of the University and Colleges Employers Association said it had taken part in negotiations with unions during the year.

Constructive dialogue

Peter Humphries told the BBC Good Morning Scotland programme: "The problem is that they have not been prepared to accept what we have offered, which is the most the sector can afford.

"We would like to have a constructive dialogue with the trade unions to take forward the recommendations of the Bett Report, but that has not been possible so far."

He said the extra funding announced by the Scottish Executive would not come into the sector until next August at the earliest.

And he added that some employees, in positions identified by the Bett Report, had been offered a pay rise of more than 3%.

EIS members held a one-day strike in March in protest at a new contract which cuts holidays.

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07 Mar 00 | Scotland
Universities hit by strikes
12 Jan 00 | Education
Student numbers increasing
12 Jan 00 | Scotland
Lib Dems defiant on fees
15 Nov 99 | Education
University access for all
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