Created on: 03 Dec 2021
EIS-ULA has been in dispute since July 2021 over a failure to agree a cost of living pay rise.
In March 2021, the EIS-ULA lodged a joint pay claim for 2021/22 with the other four trade unions who participate in the New JNCHES pay negotiations. The claim included 3 main elements: a pay uplift of £2500 on all pay points; a request to activate the Scottish Subcommittee of New JNCHES; and a request for a nationally agreed payment to recognise excessive workloads. The full pay claim submitted can be accessed here.
In May 2021, the Employers issued what was described as a full and final offer, with a headline pay uplift of 1.5% for academic staff. Following an initial consultative ballot, the 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:
the 1.5% offered to academic staff is significantly below the Joint Trade Union Pay Claim and the Retail Price Index (RPI);
UCEA’s further refusal to facilitate a Scottish Subcommittee of New JNCHES – despite it being a part of the New JNCHES Agreement that underpins the national bargaining arrangements.
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.
The only avenue left open to us in seeking to secure an improved offer is to ballot members for strike action.
The 1.5% pay uplift offered for 2021-22 will lead to yet another successive real terms cut in pay for HE staff and a total real terms decline in pay amounts of around 29.5% 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 December 2021, actual RPI is sitting at 4.9%.
We attended two dispute meetings under the New JNCHES dispute procedure and sought to engage UCEA in meaningful negotiations. Despite these attempts, no resolution was achieved.
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 2021/22 New JNCHES pay round and at which the EIS-ULA has members will be balloted for industrial action in an aggregated ballot (this means that the total across all balloted members is counted together, instead of by employer). The following Universities will be balloted:
Edinburgh Napier University
Glasgow Caledonian University
Glasgow School of Art
Queen Margaret University
Robert Gordon University
University of Aberdeen
University of Dundee
University of Edinburgh
University of Glasgow
University of Stirling
University of Strathclyde
University of the West of Scotland
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 ULA Executive will meet on 9th December to discuss what action to call and when. The action would start at the time they decide at that meeting and 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.