EDUCATION: Rennie joins university staff at Holyrood protest

Failed former Health Secretary Jeane Freeman and LibDem education spokesman Willie Rennie.

Scottish Liberal Democrat education spokesperson Willie Rennie spoke today at a protest outside the Scottish Parliament organised by the University and College Union, who are striking over pay, inequality, and pensions.

Ten days of strikes have been planned over the coming weeks, with staff at universities in St Andrews, Dundee, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Stirling, Strathclyde, and at the Open University participating. The dispute relates to falling real-terms pay, inequalities in pay amongst university staff, and increases in pension contributions which the UCU believes are unfair and unnecessary.

Mr Rennie said: “It is deeply unfortunate that university staff have had to strike again and protest outside parliament. These issues have been dragging on for far too long, which is unfair on staff and students.

“I support our excellent university staff. They are one of the shining lights across the world and here at home. Educating the next generation, discovering the cures, the technology, the advances that make our lives better.

“If they are to continue to be that shining light they need decent pay and a decent pension.  Yet for too long the sector has been run on short-term contracts, poor pay and casual work. The current dispute over the pension is only one issue in a wider effort for better terms and conditions.

“This is an issue of government policy as well as university policy. The message to university principals, to UK and Scottish government ministers, to the Universities and Colleges Employers Association, is to sort out the pension, sort out the pay and sort out the short-term contracts.”

Meanwhile, failed former SNP government Health Secretary Jeane Freeman has landed a new “key role” at a Scottish university.

Ms Freeman, who stood down from Holyrood ahead of the last election in May, is to become the Ambassador for Community Engagement, Public Health and Innovation within the University of Glasgow.

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