FAQs

Created on: 27 Sep 2021 | Last modified: 27 Sep 2021

The Pay & Grading dispute at the SRUC has a lawful mandate for industrial action following the members ballot that closed in June 2021.

The industrial action at the SRUC starts on the 30th September and consists of both a programme of strike action and an action short of strike action that includes a withdrawal of goodwill and a resulting boycott. More information about the dispute and the two types of industrial action is set out in the FAQ below.

  1. Why are we taking industrial action?

  2. What have we done about it?

  3. How many days will we be on strike for?

  4. Will we get strike pay when we go on strike?

  5. Do I have to go on strike?

  6. Do I need to confirm or tell the SRUC that I will go on strike?

  7. Will the EIS give my name for strike action to the SRUC when strike action begins?

  8. Does the strike interrupt my continuity of service?

  9. What would I do on a strike day?

  10. What if I’m sick or otherwise on leave on any strike day?

  11. How long would a strike last?

  12. Would non-lecturing EIS members be on strike too?Could new EIS members be on strike too?

  13. Could new EIS members be on strike too?

  14. What about students?

  15. Could I be exempted from strike action?

  16. I am pregnant - would I qualify for an exemption/how does strike affect my pay?

  17. Is a strike a breach of contract and could I be dismissed by taking part?

  18. What is the law on picketing?

  19. What is Action Short of a Strike?

  20. Does Action Short of a Strike Affect My Pay?

  21. I am an EIS member at a non-striking institution. What can I do to support my colleagues?

 

Q1. Why are we taking industrial action?

This dispute centres on SRUC failing to meet the 2020 pay claim as submitted by the EIS (as part of the joint trade unions' claim) and its failure to implement the pay and grading review as per the 2019 pay agreement. A pay and grading review at SRUC is essential, in our view, to create a new, single harmonised pay and grading system (underpinned by job evaluation) to ensure fair, consistent pay for all staff, and though an agreement that was reached in 2019 to undertake such a review, the SRUC has failed to implement that agreement. The proposed industrial actions are in pursuit of the dispute. The objective of the proposed industrial actions is to obtain an acceptable pay offer in response to the 2020 pay claim and to secure an implementation agreement on the pay & grading review, including a date to which backdating of the pay and grading review will be pinned.

 

Q2. What have we done about it?

We have engaged in discussions with SRUC since April 2020 on the pat and grading element of this dispute and in discussions about the claim through the JNC and normal bargaining procedure. Since declaring a dispute, we have engaged in a dispute resolution process that has been exhausted. We have met with the employer since that time and with the Principal. To date, we have no acceptable offer from SRUC on 2020 pay, nor any agreement on the pay and grading review.

  

Q3. How many days will we be on strike for?

The strike will be for 1 day per week on a rotating basis. The dates for strike action are:

  • Thursday 30thSeptember 

  • Wednesday 6thOctober

  • Tuesday 12thOctober

  • Monday 25thOctober 

  • Thursday 4thNovember

  • Wednesday 10thNovember

  • Tuesday 16thNovember

  • Monday 22ndNovember

  • Thursday 2nd December

  • Wednesday 8th December

  • Tuesday 14th December

 

Q4. Will we get strike pay when we go on strike?

Strike pay, which is calculated to be approximate to 50% of a member’s net pay, will be paid to all striking members, so long as the strike action extends beyond 1 day.

Applications can also be made to the EIS Strike Hardship Fund by members who have been disproportionately affected by the selected strike days.

Further details on how to apply for strike pay can be accessed here.

For the avoidance of doubt, neither strike pay nor hardship fund payments are taxable on members.

 

Q5. Do I have to go on strike?

We would urge you to participate in collective, national industrial action.

Lecturers deserve a cost of living pay rise similar to our colleagues in the education sector in schools and colleges in Scotland.

A successful resolution to the current dispute will ensure that we can start to address the years of pay decline and continue to bargain and negotiate our pay – rather than have uplifts imposed on us. The more effective any strike action taken, the more quickly the dispute will be resolved in the interests of EIS members and our students.

 

Q6. Do I need to confirm or tell the SRUC that I will go on strike?

No, the EIS has already provided the legal notice of strike action. There is no need for any individual to do anything.

 

Q7. Will the EIS give my name for strike action to the SRUC when strike action begins?

No, the EIS is only required to give the number of members per workplace in the dispute. We have done this.

 

Q8. Does the strike interrupt my continuity of service?

No. A strike will not create a gap in service and will not affect your legal right to permanency if you are on a fixed-term or top up contract.

 

Q9. What would I do on a strike day?

The Branch has organised picket lines at the entrances for each campus, and reps are making up rotas for picket line duty. We would encourage all members to take part in the picket line, and to join any strike related activities the branch may plan.

Above all, we would ask that you do not undertake any work on a strike day. This means not attending work or taking classes, supervising students but also covers answering emails, marking, working from home etc.

 

Q10. What if I’m sick or otherwise on leave on any strike day?

The SRUC may ask you for medical evidence for shorter sickness absences if these coincide with strike days.

If you are on maternity, paternity leave etc then you are not expected to participate in industrial action. If you are shortly planning to take maternity or other leave, please contact your branch secretary for advice.

 

Q11. How long would a strike last?

The stronger the action, the shorter the strike will be. The industrial action is planned until December and may escalate over the remainder after this time if necessary. Should it be required, a further ballot will be held to renew the mandate for continued action.

We will continue to seek a negotiated settlement with Management. Your support for the strike strengthens our hand in negotiations!

 

Q12. Would non-lecturing EIS members be on strike too?

Yes, academic and academic-related staff are involved in the dispute. In short, you should have been balloted for industrial action to participate – unless you are a new member.

 

Q13. Could new EIS members be on strike too?

Yes – if they become members before the start of a strike day then they can participate.

 

Q14. What about students?

Going on strike is always a last resort, and we know that any strike action impacts our students. In the long term, students benefit from the defence of education and professional standards that the EIS provides.

EIS’s SRUC branch has met with student reps to discuss the strike and the reasons for it, and to ask for their support. We would also seek paid, additional contracts to allow staff if they wish, to ‘make up’ time lost through industrial action once the dispute has been concluded.

 

Q15. Could I be exempted from strike action?

In exceptional circumstances, a member may be exempted from strike action. If you seek an exemption, then please contact Sonia Leal (sleal@eis.org.uk) explaining the exceptional circumstances.

 

Q16. I am pregnant - would I qualify for an exemption/how does strike affect my pay?

Occupational Maternity Pay is paid according to a pregnant worker’s average weekly wage in the 8 weeks preceding 15 weeks before the Expected Week of Confinement (‘EWC’). It is unclear whether employers will calculate maternity pay on notional or actual salary but to avoid doubt, an exemption will be provided to those who have an EWC between 30th September and 14th of December.

To qualify for SMP and OMP a lecturer has to have 26 weeks of continuous employment 15 weeks before her EWC. As set out above, a day on which an employee is on strike does not count in the period of continuous employment but does not break continuous employment.

This means that a small number of lecturers may be affected during the qualifying period. Therefore, an exemption is also given to those who have 25, 26 or 27 (to avoid doubt) weeks of continuous employment at the end of the week preceding 30th September 2021.

Those who do not have 25 weeks by then will not qualify. 

 

Q17. Is a strike a breach of contract and could I be dismissed by taking part?

Yes, a strike is a breach of contract, and in return, the employer does not (normally) pay you.

You can’t be dismissed for industrial action if:

  • It is called as a result of a properly organised ballot

  • It’s about a trade dispute between workers and their employer (e.g. about your pay or terms and conditions)

  • A detailed notice about the industrial action (which is legally required) has been given to the employer at least 14 days before it begins

The EIS has complied with the law in this industrial action process and that this has not been challenged by the SRUC.

You can claim unfair dismissal at an employment tribunal if you’re dismissed for taking industrial action at any time within the 12 weeks after the action began.

 

Q18. What is the law on picketing?

Peaceful picketing is allowed and members are encouraged to get involved.  Picketing should be carried out at or near an entrance or exit from a campus at which pickets work.

 

Q19. What is Action Short of a Strike?

Members are being asked to take continuous Action Short of a Strike from 30th September.

The industrial action short of a strike will take the following forms:

1. Not undertaking any goodwill activities beyond existing duties, such as overtime or lunchtime activities.

2. A resulting boycott - Not to share any assessment or exam results with the SRUC.

 

Q20. Does Action Short of a Strike Affect My Pay?

Some Universities in other industrial actions short of strike action have previously advised staff that they will not accept partial performance and will not pay staff or pay staff less if they carry out ASOS. (The usual Trade Union response to this is to go on strike since there would be no financial loss to do so).

Some Universities take the view that threatening deductions to staff is counterproductive to them and seek to work around the ASOS.

The law around pay deductions for ASOS is complex as rejecting partial performance means giving staff an option not to attend work at all.

Staff paid on an hourly rate should expect to lose the payment for the hours they are contracted to work on the day in question.

 

Q21. I am an EIS member at a non-striking institution. What can I do to support my colleagues?

You can let colleagues know you support them by sending a solidarity message to Sonia Leal (sleal@eis.org.uk)  or on social media using #FairPayForSRUC