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Strike dates set for university staff amid row over language course changes

The University of Aberdeen said the industrial action is ‘disappointing’.

UCU picket line

Staff at a Scottish university are to take strike action next month over the potential of 30 job cuts due to course changes.

The University and College Union (UCU) said on Friday the University of Aberdeen staff will walk out on six days in March due to changes in the modern languages department.

The first strike will take place on Tuesday March 12, with further walkouts on March 21, 22, 25, 26 and 27.

UCU members voted by 80% in favour of the strikes, with a turnout of 60% of its members.

Meanwhile, the union said a petition to save modern languages courses at the university has been signed by more than 17,000 people, including MSPs from several parties.

The union said it is unacceptable that the university is refusing to rule out compulsory redundancies.

The announcement comes ahead of a public rally to save modern languages courses on Monday.

It will be held outside the New King’s building in Old Aberdeen at 5.30pm.

The UCU says it has not been given financial information by the university to explain the cuts.

It added it remains open to working with the university to find an alternative solution.

University of Aberdeen
The University of Aberdeen staff will walk out next month (Alamy/PA)

UCU Aberdeen branch chairwoman Rachel Shanks said: “The very last thing staff at the university want to do is to go on strike but we’ve been forced into this position by senior managers who are prepared to see staff lose pay, and students suffer disruption, rather than working together to resolve this dispute.

“It’s not too late for the university principal and other senior managers to resolve the dispute.

“We urge them to fully engage with the union to find a way forward that allows the university to recover its reputation and the 30 staff to keep their jobs.”

A University of Aberdeen spokesperson said: “The announcement of industrial action is disappointing as there is a real possibility that staff savings in modern languages and the School of Language, Literature, Music and Visual Culture will be achieved through voluntary departures from the university.

“The consultation on modern languages has also resulted in the development of a strong set of proposals which provides an academically and financially sustainable future for modern languages.

“Our talks with Aberdeen UCU will continue and we hope a resolution to the dispute can be found in the coming days that will mean that the industrial action will not proceed.

“In the meantime measures are in place to keep any disruption to students to a minimum.”

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