Staff at five Scottish universities prepared to strike in dispute over pay
Around 1,000 technicians, cleaners, security officers, janitors and other workers have backed a walkout.
Around 1,000 Scottish university staff could strike in the coming weeks in a bitter dispute over pay.
Members of the Unite union at five universities have said they are prepared to walk out.
It comes after representatives were unable to reach an agreement on the 2023/24 pay award with the Universities and Colleges Employers Association (UCEA).
Unite confirmed on Wednesday it had received industrial action mandates from members working at Glasgow, Dundee, Abertay, Edinburgh Napier and Strathclyde universities.
Technicians, cleaners, security officers and janitors are among the staff set to strike if no improved terms are offered in the dispute.
The union claims the vast majority of its members have had a 5-6% pay offer “imposed” on them, following what it termed as a “derisory” uplift of 3% for most of its members in 2022.
Unite says there was also a failure to reach agreement on what it described as the “sub inflation” 2022/23 award which resulted in members taking strike action last year.
The union has indicated it will next week announce the strike dates.
Its general secretary Sharon Graham said: “Unite has received a mandate for strike action at five universities across Scotland which could see 1,000 members taking strike action in the coming weeks.
“The UCEA has not only failed to put a fair wage offer on the table, it is attempting to impose a real-terms pay cut on all university workers, which is totally unacceptable.
“Unite will fully support our university members in their fight for better jobs, pay and conditions.”
Unite regional officer Alison Maclean added: “Any disruption caused by strike action will be the sole fault of the UCEA, who have left our members with no other option.
“University workers have been repeatedly undervalued and under-appreciated for years despite keeping universities open for learning during Covid.
“We will not tolerate wage impositions at any point, nevermind when the UCEA can clearly afford to pay more.
“Unite calls on the UCEA to get back to the negotiating table before any strike action because our members and all university students deserve better.”
UCEA chief executive Raj Jethwa said: “UCEA continues to meet with Unite, UCU and the other sector trade unions to seek urgent resolution.
“UCEA has suggested an independent facilitated review of sector finances and the trade unions have stated their agreement. UCEA has suggested a joint approach to Acas for facilitation of these talks and is awaiting the trade unions’ response to this proposal.
“This year’s pay uplift of 5-8% prioritised the disproportionate effect of high inflation falling on the lower paid. Nearly half of the uplift was delivered six months early to address cost-of-living pressures.
“Around half of HE staff on the New JNCHES (Joint Negotiating Committee for Higher Education Staff) spine will also be eligible for pay progression, typically worth 3% on top of the base pay uplift. The date of implementation of the remaining portion of the 2023-24 uplift is August 1.”