Why are we taking industrial action?
What is the current rate of inflation?
What have we done about it?
Which EIS-ULA Branches are taking strike action?
How many days will we be on strike for?
Will we get strike pay when we go on strike?
Do I have to go on strike?
Do I need to confirm or tell the university that I will go on strike?
Will the EIS give my name for strike action to the University – if strike action begins?
Does the strike interrupt my continuity of service?
What would I do on a strike day?
What if I’m sick or otherwise on leave on any strike day?
How long would a strike last?
Would non-lecturing EIS members be on strike too?
Could new EIS members be on strike too?
What about students?
Could I be exempted from strike action?
I am pregnant - would I qualify for an exemption/how does strike affect my pay?
Is a strike a breach of contract and could I be dismissed by taking part?
What is the law on picketing?
I am an EIS member at a non-striking institution. What can I do to support my colleagues?
I will be working outwith the UK on a strike day - what should I do?
1. Why are we taking industrial action?
EIS-ULA has been in dispute since June 2019 over a failure to agree a cost of living pay rise.
Management’s pay offer consists of a 1.8% headline pay uplift. Since 2009, the value of members' pay has fallen by over 20%! This pay offer compounds that real terms drop in the value of your pay.
The reality is that Universities are choosing to invest in other areas – such as buildings – rather than in their staff. After nearly a decade of sub-inflationary pay settlements, the only avenue left open to us to secure a significant improvement in lecturers' and academic related staff pay is through industrial action.
The Employers' offer is in stark contrast to what is happening with senior staff pay, with remuneration packages for senior staff including pension perks and performance bonus payments.
Spending on Principals' salaries alone exceeded £4.8 million in Scotland in 2017/18, an increase of over 11% from the previous year. It is little surprise, therefore, that the Scottish Government has called for action and urged senior figures within the university sector to demonstrate restraint in their own pay packages.
Despite all of this, UCEA has refused to re-enter negotiations on pay for the 2019-20 round and has called on HEIs to impose their pay offer.
Whilst lecturers' pay is falling in real terms the workload and expectations placed on academic staff continue to rise. Universities are getting more from their staff despite paying less. This has to be challenged – or it will only get worse. Management refused a request for a nationally agreed payment to recognise excessive workloads.
The time has come to take a stand and the only avenue left to achieve this is through industrial action.
2. What is the current rate of inflation?
As of January 2020, RPI is sitting at 2.2%.
The Joint Trade Unions measure inflation using the Retail Price Index (‘RPI’) as this most closely reflects the increasing costs of our members (who generally own their homes). A direct comparison can then be made with your income and your expenditure. In real terms, your buying power has decreased by over 20% since 2009.
3. What have we done about it?
We have engaged in the New JNCHES Dispute Resolution Process and sought to engage management in meaningful negotiations. In an effort to move matters forward, we recently invited Management to meet with the EIS and our sister trade unions to re-open pay talks. UCEA has steadfastly refused to discuss pay again and has indicated that it has no mandate from your employer to do so.
4. Which EIS-ULA Branches are taking strike action?
The EIS-ULA Branches in the following Universities are participating in industrial action:
Edinburgh Napier University
Glasgow School of Art
The University of Aberdeen
The University of Strathclyde
The University of the West of Scotland
5. How many days will we be on strike for?
Strike action will take place in the following institutions, on the following dates:
At Edinburgh Napier University, the University of Aberdeen, the University of Strathclyde and Glasgow School of Art on:
Thursday, 20th February 2020
Tuesday, 25th February 2020
Monday, 2nd March 2020
Thursday, 12th March 2020
Friday, 13th March 2020
At the University of the West of Scotland on:
This programme of action will co-ordinate with the industrial action already announced by our sister trade union, the UCU. Further consideration will be given in due course to any action beyond these dates.
6. Will we get strike pay when we go on strike?
Strike pay of £50 per member per day will be paid from the second day of action (i.e. 25th February 2020). Further details on how to apply for strike pay can be accessed here.
In addition, the EIS Hardship Fund will be available for those members who are disproportionately affected by the programme of action e.g. members on part time contracts where the strike day hits a significant percentage of working hours. The Hardship Fund may be claimed from the first day of strike action. Further details on how to apply for financial support can be accessed here.
7. 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. Our colleagues in the schools’ sector and in further education demonstrated their willingness to take strike action to secure the victories they have won in recent pay settlements. University lecturers have now made it clear that they too will not continue to accept sub-inflationary pay uplifts and are standing together in this collective action.
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.
8. Do I need to confirm or tell the University 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.
9. Will the EIS give my name for strike action to the University, 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.
10. 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.
11. What would I do on a strike day?
Your branch would organise picket lines at the entrances for each campus, and reps would have rotas for picket line duty. We would encourage all members to take part in the picket line, even if you’re not able to do a full two hour stint.
Above all, we would ask that you do not undertake any work on a strike day. This means not attending work or taking classes, but also covers answering emails, marking, working from home etc.
12. What if I’m sick or otherwise on leave on any strike day?
The University 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.
13. How long would a strike last?
The stronger the action, the shorter the strike will be. The industrial action is for five days initially in February and March and may escalate over the remainder of the academic year, if necessary.
We will continue to seek a negotiated settlement with Management. Your support for the strike strengthens our hand in negotiations!
14. 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.
15. Could new EIS members be on strike too?
Yes – if they become members before the start of a strike day then they can participate.
16. What about students?
Going on strike is always a last resort, and we know that any strike action impacts on our students. In the long-term, students benefit from the defence of education and professional standards that the EIS provides.
We would encourage branches to meet 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.
17. 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 Anita Stewart explaining the exceptional circumstances.
18. 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, exemption will be provided to those who have an EWC between 30 June and 5 September 2020.
To qualify for SMP and OMP a lecturer has to have 26 weeks 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. If you are concerned or believe that you may be impacted as a result of this, please contact EIS HQ for further advice.
19. 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
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.
20. 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.
21. 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 email@example.com or on social media using #thedifferenceisstriking. You can also contribute to the voluntary solidarity levy to provide direct support to striking members.
22. I will be working outwith the UK on a strike day - what should I do?
The EIS advice is that if you are working outwith the UK on a strike day, you should continue to work as normal, as the legal position is complex. You could, however, make a donation to the Voluntary Solidarity Levy.