University of Dundee (Pensions)

– in the Scottish Parliament at on 8 September 2022.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Michael Marra Michael Marra Labour

3. To ask the Scottish Government what discussions it has had and has planned with the University of Dundee’s management team regarding the reported pensions dispute between the university and trade unions representing staff. (S6O-01342)

Photo of Jamie Hepburn Jamie Hepburn Scottish National Party

I regularly meet university principals and the campus trade unions, and industrial action is often one of the items discussed.

Since the beginning of the dispute in question, I have regularly engaged with the principal of the University of Dundee, as well as unions at the university. This week, I have again written to Professor Iain Gillespie to encourage the university and its workforce representatives to come back together to resolve the current issues.

Photo of Michael Marra Michael Marra Labour

I welcome that intervention from the minister. He will remember that I have raised the issue with him on numerous occasions over the past year.

On 25 August, a majority of Dundee university court voted to impose cuts to the pensions of the university’s lowest-paid employees. Unite members are now taking all-out strike action, with permanent pickets. Unison members have voted for strike action on the issue for a third time, which I believe is unprecedented in Scotland. Management seem set to ride out the situation and are refusing to even respond to requests for dialogue.

Employees tell me that their trade unions have, in effect, been de-recognised at the University of Dundee. That collapse in industrial relations is unacceptable.

The Presiding Officer:

Can we have a question, please?

Photo of Michael Marra Michael Marra Labour

Will the minister contact the principal again today and urge him to do his duty and get his management to engage on the dispute immediately?

Photo of Jamie Hepburn Jamie Hepburn Scottish National Party

I have already made the point that I regularly engage with the principal. I have written to him this week to request an update and to urge for the engagement that we want to see. I will, obviously, prosecute some of the issues that Mr Marra has laid out. If what Mr Marra is hearing is correct—I am not suggesting that there is no foundation to what he has said—that is a cause for concern. I strongly believe that the trade union voice—the workforce voice—must be heard across the entirety of the labour market. Our universities are no different in that regard, and Mr Marra can be assured that I will continue to engage with the university on the matter.