University lecturers are to be balloted on strike action in a dispute over pay.
The Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS) has called for a fair rise for university lecturers, arguing their pay has been cut in real terms by more than 20% over the past decade.
The union has confirmed it will open a ballot to members on Wednesday on whether or not to take industrial action.
A number of strikes were held last year by college lecturers as they called for a cost of living increase in pay.
In May, members of the EIS Further Education Lecturers’ Association (EIS-FELA) voted by 88% in favour of a revised pay deal.
EIS general secretary Larry Flanagan said with workloads increasing, it is time for lecturers to take a stand.
“Higher education lecturers deserve a fair pay settlement following years of pay decline,” he said.
“Lecturers’ pay has been cut, in real terms, by more than 20% over the past decade while the pay of university principals has soared.
“Workload is increasing across the sector, placing ever greater strain on lecturing staff who are working harder and longer for ever-decreasing pay.
“It is now time for Scotland’s higher education lecturers to take a stand and demand the fair pay deal that is due to them.”
Mr Flanagan also warned of attacks on the workers’ rights in future as a result of the Conservatives winning a sizeable majority at Westminster in last month’s general election.
He said: “Our recent national ballot across Scotland’s university sector showed overwhelming support for taking strike action is pursuit of a fair pay deal.
“Unfortunately, however, as a result of the extremely strict anti-strike legislation brought in by the UK Conservative Government, the EIS ballot fell just short of a legal mandate for strike action.
“The result of the recent general election is a worrying result for all public sector employees, with an emboldened UK Government returned to Westminster with a history of attacking workers’ rights, curtailing the work of unions, and driving down public sector pay.
“Now is the time for our university lecturer members to make a stand, to secure fair pay for the vital work that they do.”
Mr Flanagan added: “I would urge all ULA members to use their vote in this important ballot, and to vote in favour of strike action in pursuit of a fair pay deal.”
Higher education minister Richard Lochhead said industrial action is not in anyone’s interest.
“Universities are autonomous institutions and matters relating to pay and working conditions and pensions are for them to determine,” he said.
“Industrial action is in no-one’s interests, especially students’, and I expect management and unions to make every effort to reach a settlement on these matters.”