Created on: 15 Nov 2022 | Last modified: 20 Apr 2023
Q1. Why are we balloting on pay again?
Q2. What will the offer mean in real terms for me?
Q3. What is the current rate of inflation?
Q4. What have we done about it?
Q5. What have the Employers done?
Q6. Which Universities in Scotland are being balloted in this statutory ballot?
Q7. Will this ballot lead to strike action? How many days will we be on strike?
Q8. Will we get strike pay if we do eventually go on strike?
Q9. Do I have to go on strike?
Q10. Will the EIS give my name for strike action to the University – if strike action begins?
Q11. What would I do on a strike day?
Q12. How long will the strike last?
Q13. The ballot paper includes an Industrial Action Short of Strike Action (ASOS) question – what is this?
Q14. Can carrying out ASOS lead to salary deductions?
Q15. The EIS industrial action is not going to force all UK Employers to improve the UK HE pay offer for 2022-23?
Q16. I haven’t received my ballot paper
Q 17. Where do I find more information on the dispute?
EIS-ULA has been in dispute since June 2022 over a failure to agree on a cost of living pay rise for 2022-23.
In March 2022, the EIS-ULA lodged a joint pay claim for 2022/23 with the other four trade unions who participate in the New JNCHES pay negotiations. The claim included 2 main elements: a pay uplift of RPI+2%; a request to activate the Scottish Subcommittee of New JNCHES.
You can find the full pay claim here.
In May 2022, the Employers issued what was described as a full and final offer, with a headline pay uplift of 3% for academic staff. 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.
Despite the Employers agreeing to collective bargaining on pay, they imposed (i.e. unilaterally paid) the 3% pay uplift.
Our last statutory ballot obtained a strike mandate at 3 HEIs, and this strike action, together with strike action carried out by other HE trade unions led to the Employers asking us to suspend further strike action whilst they gave a pay offer for 2023-24 that would settle both 2022-23 and 2023-24 negotiation rounds.
The EIS (and other HE trade unions) have rejected the 2023-24 pay offer. We then entered talks on non-pay matters at ACAS – a report on these talks may be found here – but they have not resolved the 2022-23 national HE pay dispute.
By law, our strike mandate can only last 6 months and it now needs to be renewed - i.e. another statutory ballot.
The 3% pay uplift offered for 2022-23 will lead to another successive real terms cut in pay for HE staff and a total real terms decline in pay amounts of over around 40% 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 2022-23 pay offer for our members. The 2023-24 pay offer is 5% for academic staff.
As of February 2023, RPI is sitting at 13.8% with CPI at 10.4%. These inflation figures (published 22 March 2023) show rising inflation which was unexpected as many economists have predicted falling inflation in 2023.
The EIS and the trade union movement prefer using RPI since it includes mortgages and is not a consumer index where items cheaper items are sometimes substituted, thereby reducing inflation.
We attended two dispute meetings under the New JNCHES dispute procedure and along with the other trade unions involved (UCU, Unite and Unison), sought to engage UCEA in meaningful negotiations.
We have also attended ACAS meetings for the 2023-24 pay offer. You can read more about this here.
Despite these attempts, no resolution was achieved.
UCEA has refused to increase the 2022-23 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 that indicated that they were participating in the 2022/23 New JNCHES pay round and at which the EIS-ULA has members will be balloted for industrial action – excluding Edinburgh Napier University. The following universities (HEIs) 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 2022 and action would escalate over the academic year as required and as 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 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. Strikebreakers 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 members’ pay to keep pace with inflation, especially now amidst a cost-of-living crisis!
The employers have already imposed their final offer. This undermines partnership working, worker voice and collective bargaining. A successful resolution to this strike will ensure that we achieve an improved, consolidated pay offer. 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!
We will also work with our sister HE trade unions to coordinate our actions.
Industrial Action Short of Strike Action (ASOS) may be used to complement a programme of strike action as it allows continuous action.
The ASOS will include the withdrawal of goodwill and a resulting boycott. The withdrawal of goodwill (aka work to contract) requires an industrial action mandate to lawfully action. The resulting boycott will call on members to set and mark students’ work but not enter any marks into the university system.
Yes, an employer may accept partial performance but deem a proportion of the salary in recognition that not all work is carried out. The law allows the Employer to determine how much to deduct.
The standard trade union response to "deeming" is to lodge a dispute and to escalate by going on strike.
No, but our action when coordinated with other HE trade unions may well leverage an improved pay offer.
Edinburgh Napier University made a supplementary pay offer to accompany the national HE pay offer in 2022-23 and this led to a fair pay increase for the academic staff there. It may also be possible to replicate this type of agreement to boost EIS members’ pay.
Members in affected universities 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 here.