Around 1,000 workers at five Scots universities set to strike over pay

Strike dates are set to be announced unless the University and Colleges Employers Association improves a pay offer for Unite members.

Workers at five Scottish universities are set to walk-out in a dispute over what union bosses say is a real-terms pay cut.

Unite the union has confirmed members have supported strike action at the University of Glasgow, Dundee University, Abertay University, Edinburgh Napier and Strathclyde University.

Around 1,000 workers including technicians, cleaners, security officers, and janitors will be involved in the action.

It comes after the industrial action ballots were launched over a failure to reach agreement on the 2023/24 pay award with the University and Colleges Employers Association (UCEA).

Dates for the action are expected to be announced next week.

However, UCEA say they have called for talks through Acas and are waiting for the union to respond.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “Unite has received a mandate for strike action at five universities across Scotland which could see 1,000 members taking strike action in the coming weeks.

“The UCEA has not only failed to put a fair wage offer on the table, it is attempting to impose a real terms pay cut on all university workers which is totally unacceptable. Unite will fully support our university members in their fight for better jobs, pay and conditions.”

The majority of Unite members have been given a pay offer of 5-6% following an uplift of 3% in 2022.

The current dispute is part of a UK wide higher education pay dispute.

There was also a failure to reach agreement on the sub inflation 2022/23 award which resulted in Unite members taking part in strike action last year.

Unite regional officer Alison Maclean said: “Any disruption caused by strike action will be the sole fault of the UCEA who have left our members with no other option. University workers have been repeatedly undervalued and under-appreciated for years despite keeping universities open for learning during Covid.”

“We will not tolerate wage impositions at any point never mind when the UCEA can clearly afford to pay more. Unite calls on the UCEA to get back to the negotiating table before any strike action because our members and all university students deserve better”.

Raj Jethwa, UCEA’s chief executive said: “UCEA continues to meet with Unite, UCU and the other sector trade unions to seek urgent resolution.  UCEA has suggested an independent facilitated review of sector finances and the trade unions have stated their agreement. UCEA has suggested a joint approach to Acas for facilitation of these talks and is awaiting the trade unions’ response to this proposal. 

“This year’s pay uplift of 5-8% prioritised the disproportionate effect of high inflation falling on the lower paid. Nearly half of the uplift was delivered six months early to address cost of living pressures. Around half of HE staff on the New JNCHES spine will also be eligible for pay progression, typically worth 3% on top of the base pay uplift. The date of implementation of the remaining portion of the 2023-24 uplift is August 1, 2023.”

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