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Staff to strike at Scottish university over marking boycott pay deductions

Staff at the University of Stirling are set to walk out in a dispute over deductions from the pay of staff who took part in a marking and assessment boycott earlier this year.

Academic staff who participated in a sector wide marking and assessment boycott in an ongoing dispute over pay and conditions had pay packets docked by 50% as a result.

For the next three weeks, staff will strike each weekday with industrial action taking place at the beginning of the academic year as students return to campus following the summer break.

They will take to the picket line from 11am on Monday until September 22.

Following this, they will also take part in UK wide action for a further five days from September 25-29.

The first two weeks of the strike action will focus on the dispute over the pay deductions which UCU have called “disproportionate”.

UCU claim the deductions were “punitive and disproportionate” as the salary deducted did not reflect the percentage of time staff participating in the boycott spend marking and assessing students’ work.

Staff taking part in the boycott have continued to work normally including carrying out their duties supervising and providing support to students, as well as carrying out research.

Stirling is an “outlier” in Scotland in making pay deductions for a prolonged period of time with other Scottish institutions taking a smaller amount or having done away completely with any deductions.

These deductions have particularly impacted staff on low pay in the midst of a cost-of-living crisis.

Mary Senior, Scotland official UCU, said: “Stirling university management has brought an unprecedented 15 days of strike action at the start of the new academic year on the university and our students by taking a hard line stance on relations with their own workers.

“Other employers have limited deductions, but Stirling university’s belligerent approach is deeply disappointing.

“Staff want to be welcoming new students.

“The last thing we want to be doing is taking strike action now.”

A spokesperson for the University of Stirling said: “The university is disappointed that industrial action is taking place.

“Our focus is on ensuring our new and returning students are warmly welcomed to the university over the coming days and disruption is minimal.

“Marking and the facilitation of assessments form part of the contractual duties of teaching staff and are fundamental to the progress of our students.

“The small number of staff who participated in the marking and assessment boycott, as part of sector-wide industrial action, were advised prior to the action that part of their pay would be withheld if they chose not to mark or assess work.”