Public sector workers across St Andrews have played their part in the UK’s biggest day of industrial action for around 40 years.
The unions went out on strike on Wednesday - St Andrew’s Day - in protest at the UK government’s plans to change their pension schemes.
Members of the University and College Union (UCU) held a rally in the town’s Church Square before marching to Younger Hall in protest at the measures being proposed by the UK government.
Along the way they shouted slogans such as “make the bankers pay” as they made their way through the town centre.
Once assembled at Younger Hall, striking workers applauded graduates as they emerged from the morning ceremony to celebrate receiving their diplomas.
UCU staff were supported in their action by the St Andrews University Students Association whose president, Patrick O’Hare, addressed the rally at Church Square.
He told the Citizen: “I’m very proud to be standing alongside staff who are fighting not only to defend their pensions, but for higher education as a whole.
“Members of the UCU stood with students when we demonstrated against tuition fees being raised and it’s important that students stand with them now.
“It benefits all students if committed and hard-working teaching staff are properly rewarded with fair pay, conditions and pensions.”
Striking staff were keen to point out to graduates and their families that they believe the current dispute over pensions could ultimately effect the quality of teaching at the university.
“We congratulate this year’s graduates and remind them and their families of the key role played by university staff in helping them make that achievement,” Elizabeth Stitt of the UCU said.
“The current attacks on pensions which will see these same staff pay more and get less from their pension fund runs the serious risk of damaging the university’s ability to continue to offer the high standards of which it is justifiably proud.”
At St Andrews Community Hospital, members of Unison manned the picket line from before 8am. They too were taking action over proposed changes to their pension scheme.
“They want us to pay more into the scheme, work for longer and yet end up with less at the end of it all,” Unison’s John Doherty told the Citizen.
“We have had quite a lot of support from people and the cars passing by and that is always encouraging.”
Fife Council said that all schools in the Kingdom had been closed for the day.
A spokesperson added: ‘’We hoped initially that, where we could, we would be able to keep some of our schools open.
‘‘Having considered the practical safety implications, we decided that the only option was for us to close our schools to all pupils.’’