Bulletin 2 - 29 September 2021

Created on: 29 Sep 2021

SRUC Bulletin

Bulletin No. 2

Dear Member

As we approach tomorrow’s day of strike action and the start of the Action Short of Strike Action, I wish to update members as to the dispute and how we are leaving no stone unturned to resolve the dispute at SRUC.

Update on Negotiations

Two weeks ago, EIS representatives met with Principal Wayne Powell, for our first formal meeting with him since 2018, to discuss the dispute.  We outlined what would be required to resolve the dispute – namely an interim agreement on the future Pay & Grading Review that included and an implementation date (aka a ‘Pin’ date).  We received assurances that the SRUC understood the dispute and that it would seek to publish a draft interim agreement and project plan for the Pay & Grading review ‘within days’.

Members should be aware that the EIS sent a draft Framework Agreement to facilitate the Pay & Grading Review to the SRUC in August based on the Framework Agreement adopted by almost all HEIs in the UK in 2004.

The EIS and other Trade Unions received the SRUC Interim Framework Agreement and Project Plan on the evening of Monday 27th September and a meeting took place yesterday (September 28th) at 4.00pm to discuss the documents.

At this meeting, it was clarified that SRUC does not intend to implement any new pay and grading structure until at least Autumn 2023, and do not currently plan to actually agree on a structure until summer 2023. This is clearly unacceptable – and the Trade Unions informed SRUC of this yesterday.

In essence, the SRUC Pay & Grading review seeks to evaluate SRUC current mish-mash of posts and then create an SRUC posts structure out of these, and then match these into a new pay grade structure in 2023.  Staff pay grades will not be affected until late 2023.  This design might create a logical SRUC Pay & Grading structure, but it will not anchor SRUC’s Pay & Grading to the rest of the HE sector.  In other words, this Pay & Grading Review will keep SRUC staff being underpaid compared to the rest of the HE sector.

The EIS proposal for the SRUC Pay & Grading Framework was to implement role profiles, job families and pay grades that are the HE sector norm – and to match members into these profiles.  Members have waited long enough for a fair and sector norm pay system and were promised in 2019, that they would have it by April 2020.  To ask you to wait several more years (if the SRUC meets its proposed timetable) simply to continue underpaying relative to the rest of the HE sector is unreasonable – and unacceptable

We continue to negotiate with the SRUC, but we are still some distance from an acceptable agreement that would allow us to suspend industrial action with a proposal that we can recommend to you from the SRUC.

Our position is shared by Unison, which also lodged a dispute this week over the SRUC’s Pay & Grading proposals.

Last week, we offered the SRUC talks for today (29th September) to give an opportunity to negotiate a resolution up to the final hour, but this request was ignored.

Our strike action is still going ahead on 30th September – tomorrow.  An FAQ has been added to the website but if you have any more questions, please contact me at dshepherd@eis.org.uk

Action short of a strike (ASOS) is also being carried out and this includes:

  1. Not undertaking any goodwill activities beyond existing duties, such as overtime or lunchtime activities.
  2. A resulting boycott - Not to share any assessment or exam results with the SRUC.

7 Things You Can Do To Today

  1. Download and use the set of materials for members we have developed
  2.  You can write to your MP/MSP about the dispute with suggested text and you can find out who your local MSP and MP is by visiting: theyworkfgoryou.org
  3. It’s really important to show your solidarity and support for the dispute by signing up for picket duty. Please contact Branch Secretary, Duncan McKay to let him know what picket you wish to attend. You can email Duncan at  Duncan@waterborn.tv  or you can let HQ know by emailing sleal@eis.org.uk. Placards and leaflets have already been printed and will be on-site when you arrive, and every campus will have a full-time EIS official available on site too. All you need to bring is a warm coat, and your resolve to be heard. This is your best chance in years to get fair pay – hold firm and do your part!
  4. An online rally has been organised on the 30th of September at 1.15pm. You can join by logging onto the EIS website and clicking on the banner which will be on the front page on the day of the rally. The rally will be broadcast to Facebook live, but you don’t need a Facebook account to view it, just click the link from the website and you’ll get access.
  5. Join our Facebook page. Share content about the dispute to those you know to help raise awareness of the dispute. 
  6. Follow us on Twitter, retweet things about the dispute or upload your tweets and tag us @EISUnion and @EISSRUC. Use the hashtag #FairPayForSRUC
  7. Talk to students and people in your community about the dispute and why we are on strike. Such events are unusual in the rural economy and it creates pressure on the SRUC to show that they are a force for good in that economy, offering well paid, industry critical work in rural locations around the country.

Look out for an article on the dispute in the upcoming Scottish Education Journal (SEJ) which will be published soon. The EIS is determined to raise the profile of this dispute within the education sector but above all please remember this dispute is only as strong as the effort and action SRUC members are prepared to put in over the next few months.  

Industrial Action is nobody’s first choice, and we will continue to explore all avenues to resolve the dispute as quickly as possible. The more pressure you can put on by holding fast to the strike and the action short of a strike, the more you empower your negotiators to reach an acceptable settlement with SRUC on the dispute.

Finally, EIS has agreed to pay strike pay to members taking strike action at SRUC. You can find out how our strike pay works and how to apply here. Only members can access this part of the website, so have your membership details to hand to log in. You can also receive an emailed copy by contacting sleal@eis.org.uk

EIS remains ready and willing to negotiate a good settlement for our members at SRUC and we hope that management will come to their senses and do just that before further action becomes necessary. Taking strong action next week will help us come closer to fair pay at SRUC, and your union stands strong behind you at this time. I will see you on the picket lines, and together we will show our resolve to management in getting #FairPayForSRUC

Best wishes

Deborah Shepherd
National Officer for HE