Created on: 01 Jun 2023 | Last modified: 29 Sep 2023
EIS-ULA has been in dispute since March 2023 over a failure to agree a cost of living pay rise.
A pay claim was lodged on behalf of the joint trade unions, including the EIS-ULA early in 2023, in a process which brought the normal pay round forward by 3 months. The claim asked for an inflation plus pay rise, in recognition of the high cost of living pressures caused by over 14% inflation at that time plus an element of catch up related to the years of sub-inflationary pay awards in previous rounds. We also asked for the activation of the Scottish Sub Committee of new JNCHES.
In addition to the pay element, the unions requested discussions on 4 other elements:
In January 2023, the Employers issued what was described as a full and final pay offer, with a headline pay uplift of 5% for academic staff split across two instalments, one in February and one in August. EIS-ULA rejected this offer and lodged a dispute at New JNCHES over a failure to agree. The reasons given for the rejection of the offer were:
Despite further representations made during the dispute resolution process, there has been no movement from UCEA in terms of increasing the pay offer. No regard has been taken of the fact that the value of members' pay has declined and has continued to fall in recent years or that this offer would mean it continues to do so amidst a cost of living crisis.
The only avenue left open to us in seeking to secure an improved offer is to ballot members for strike action and action short of strike.
The 5% pay uplift offered for 2023-34 will lead to another successive real terms cut in pay for HE staff and a total real terms decline in pay amounts of over 30% since 2009/10.
These figures are in stark contrast to what is happening with senior staff pay. University pay is becoming more polarised with ordinary academic staff being asked to bear the brunt of real terms pay cuts whilst senior staff enjoy real terms pay increases.
Despite all of this, UCEA has refused to increase the pay offer for our members.
As of August, RPI was sitting at 9.1% and the government forecast is that overall inflation, as measured by RPI will be 8.9% for 2023.
Last year the 2022-23 pay claim was imposed by UCEA and action by the unions led to an earlier 2023-24 pay round. The promise of this pay round was that something would be done to address the pressure on staff caused by high inflation and the cost of living crisis.
Instead of addressing this problem UCEA chose to impose an offer for 2023-24 which does not even meet inflation for 2023, and certainly does not address the inadequate offer for 2022. This year the unions and UCEA also agreed a modified dispute procedure, with several meetings convened under the auspices of ACAS to try and break the deadlock on pay and the related issues following the official “final offer” from UCEA.
We have sought to engage UCEA in meaningful negotiations at all times. Despite these attempts, no resolution was achieved on either pay or on the other elements of the claim. If we achieve a positive ballot result in this statutory ballot we will seek to co-ordinate our action with the other unions, with a focus on the most effective forms of action.
UCEA has refused to increase the pay offer for our members and has stuck to their ‘final offer’ for lecturing staff, ultimately issuing advice to HEIs to impose the offer. This advice is in stark contrast to any commitment to collective bargaining, is not conducive to the maintenance of good working relations and reflects a unilateral change to members’ terms and conditions of employment.
All of the Universities in Scotland which indicated that they were willing to participate in the 2023/24 New JNCHES pay round and at which the EIS-ULA has members will be balloted for industrial action.
The following Universities will be balloted:
Yes, if members vote in favour of strike action and we meet the thresholds imposed by the Trade Union Act (i.e. 50% of eligible members use their vote) then we will proceed to strike action. The first day of strike action would be around November 2023 and action would escalate over the academic year as required and as is outlined in your ballot paper. At this stage we cannot say how many days will be needed, but the stronger the strike, the greater the likelihood that it will be resolved quickly.
The EIS does not pay strike pay to members in a national industrial action. Members engaged in strike action who have suffered hardship as a result of being disproportionally affected by the strike programme may apply to a hardship fund for financial support.
We would urge you to participate in collective, national industrial action – as decided by a statutory ballot of the membership. Strike breakers weaken trade unions by undermining collective action decided by a democratic process. Under UK law, no trade union may discipline members for strikebreaking or crossing its own picket line.
The EIS-ULA believes that lecturers deserve a fair cost of living pay rise to allow your pay to keep pace with inflation, especially now amidst a cost-of-living crisis! You are now doing more work for less pay. It’s time to put a stop to years of real terms pay cuts and take action!
The employers have already imposed their final offer. This is in stark contrast to any real commitment to collective bargaining. A successful resolution to this strike will ensure that we achieve an improved, consolidated pay offer and movement on other key areas of your terms and conditions, like the outdated pay spine and equal pay for all. The more effective the strike action, the more quickly the dispute will be resolved in the interests of EIS members and our students.
No, the EIS is only required to give the number of members per workplace in the dispute.
Your branch should be organising picket lines at the entrances for each campus, and reps will 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.
The stronger the action the shorter the strike will be. The number of strike days that will be initially called has not been decided yet, but industrial action will escalate as outlined in the ballot paper, until a resolution is reached. Your support for the strike strengthens our hand in negotiations!
Members in affected institutions should have received a ballot paper by post. If you have misplaced, lost or not received your ballot please email email@example.com and we’ll get a new one out to you as soon as possible.
You can find more information on the dispute by visiting the EIS webpages.