Staff at universities in Aberdeen will be on strike today as union members across the country walk out in a battle for higher pay.
Picket lines are planned at Aberdeen University and the Robert Gordon University in a protest against a “miserly” pay offer of 1%.
Angry staff claim they have faced a real-terms pay cut of 13% since 2008, a situation recently described as “one of the most sustained suppressions of pay since World War II”.
The University and College Union, Unison and Unite said the walkout would be their “first ever” co-ordinated strike action over pay.
The unions are disappointed that employers “made no effort” to return to the negotiating table for talks to try and avert industrial action.
Mike McConnell, a UCU representative, said: “Staff at Aberdeen University are angry they’ve had to endure large pay cuts in recent years. This year’s below-inflation offer of 1% at a time of rising bills and increased pension contributions is the last straw.
“Staff love their jobs, but their goodwill cannot continue to be taken for granted. We are disappointed the employers are still refusing to negotiate with us to try and resolve this without any need for disruption.
“There is not much time left now, but our offer of talks remains open.”
The UK-wide industrial action will be the first university walkout over pay in seven years. The unions predict widespread support.
David Briggs, RGU’s human resources executive director, said: “The university has remained committed to national collective bargaining which has been supported by our recognised trade unions.
“The proposed 1% increase is in addition to annual pay progression within a pay band which means around half of our staff will see a pay rise of nearly 3% this year. As most of our staff are not union members we do expect to maintain teaching and student support services largely as normal.”
A spokeswoman for Aberdeen University said: “The university will be open today and as far as possible it will be business as usual.
“We are planning contingencies to minimise any disruption to teaching and student activities.”