Escalation follows ‘unacceptable’ pay offer

Unite the union has confirmed today (27 September) that around 2,000 members at eleven Scottish universities are being balloted for strike action over pay.

The university staff involved in the ballots cover Aberdeen, Abertay, Dundee, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Glasgow Caledonian University, Glasgow School of Art, Herriot Watt, Napier, St Andrew’s and Strathclyde universities. 

It is the first time in Scotland that Unite has balloted simultaneously across this number of universities.

The ballot opens from 27 September and closes on 21 October. The staff involved include cleaners, janitors, estates staff, and technicians

The Unite members are part of a UK nationwide pay dispute involving the University and College Employers Association (UCEA). Unite has rejected an offer which is worth as low as 3.1 per cent for some members, despite all university staff having worked on-site throughout the pandemic.

Sharon Graham, Unite general secretary said: “The pay offer on the table from the UCEA is completely unacceptable at a time when inflation is 12.3 per cent. The pay inequalities across Scottish universities are outrageous in a sector which is totally dependent on public money. No university principal is facing a cost of living crisis but our members certainly are and this offer which represents a massive pay cut can only make that worse. They will have our full support in this fight for better jobs, pay and conditions.”

Peter Mathieson, University of Edinburgh principal, is understood to have an annual salary around £363,000, while Anton Muscatelli earns around £368,000 as principal of Glasgow University, according to the latest financial reports.

Alison MacLean, Unite industrial officer, added: The UCEA has refused to reopen pay negotiations despite Unite and all trade unions arguing that they must come back to the table. A number of Scottish universities are also recognising that the offer is so poor they are encouraging a new one to be made to the workforce. It’s the first time ever that Unite is simultaneously balloting for strike action across so many Scottish universities but that’s a testament to the anger our members feel right now.”

Unite members at the University of Dundee are also on strike action in a separate dispute concerning pension cuts.


Notes to Editor

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Unite Scotland is the country’s biggest and most diverse trade union with around 150,000 members. The union is led in Scotland by Pat Rafferty.