Campaign Update 30 November 2021

Created on: 30 Nov 2021 | Last modified: 01 Dec 2021

The Difference is Striking

Dear Member

The ULA statutory pay ballot is open and will close on 8th December. It is extremely important that you use your vote.  Time after time, the universities have failed to negotiate a reasonable and fair settlement to our pay claim. This is your chance to let them know that you can no longer be taken for granted.

Taken for Granted

In the last 10 years, academic staff have seen their workloads increase dramatically. What was once a career focussed around teaching and innovative research has now increased to include student satisfaction, student pastoral care and research grant income.

These additional aspects have often come with increased teaching loads. More paperwork and admin, and an expectation from both employers and students that feedback will almost be instantaneous, is also eating into work-life balance for staff.

This has a profound impact on all aspects of your life including physical and mental health. A failure to tackle the increasing workload pressure on staff is a symptom of universities desire to spend proportionately less on staffing.

As the workload has increased, your pay has decreased at an alarming rate. Since 2009, your pay has lost 29.5% of its real terms value, as inflation has consistently outstripped pay awards. The proportion of income spent on staff has decreased, also.

In addition to concerns about workload, staff are now seeing pressure on promotion prospects (with some staff having to move to another employer to secure a promotion or better pay due to lack of prospects). There has also been a “creep” of management responsibility down the line, unpromoted lecturers carrying out duties previously done by promoted lecturers.

There is, therefore, a cultural expectation amongst some university managements of getting more from staff for less reward. Some lecturers, for example in Teacher Education departments, are finding that teachers pay in Scotland has gone up faster than the university sector’s pay – thereby making the university sector a less attractive place to work.

During the pandemic, universities made great demands on staff; academic staff put in a huge effort to put materials online, to check in with students and to deliver learning in new formats for a student body that has required extra support managing its studies during Covid.

You have turned your homes into remote campuses and moved mountains to help students graduate in the most challenging of circumstances. Your workload has increased, yet your employer is offering you a real-terms pay cut for this extra work, in the form of yet another sub-inflationary pay rise. That’s on top of last year’s pay freeze and real terms decline in the value of your pay since 2009 of 29.5%.

Pay cut

In short, academic staff have seen workloads spiral, contracts become less secure, fewer promotion prospects and the value of pay has gone down. Is this fair? We think not.

Your employers are taking you for granted. It’s time to call a halt to this poor behaviour and take action to stop the attack on your pay, terms and conditions.

EIS-ULA believes the only way to bring about an improved settlement is to take industrial action to convince the employers to move. We need your votes to do that, as we must hit a 50% turnout for the ballot result to give a mandate for action.

VOTE YES to both ballot questions; That’s YES for strike action and YES for Action Short of Strike, and post that ballot paper today!   Your vote counts, please use it and vote YES, YES in the ballot!

Best wishes

Deborah Shepherd
National Officer for HE