Education unions say sub-inflation pay increases have left pay rates worth £5000 less than 3 years ago
(Pictured: EIS pickets at Glasgow Caledonian University)
Pickets explained to students arriving on campuses across Scotland that their action could result in disruption to classes, but that it was part of a campaign to help ensure universities attract and retain the best staff.
Union officials say the action ‘draws a line in the sand’ over years of below-inflation pay settlements which have have left pay rates worth £5000 less than 3 years ago.
Speaking after visiting pickets in Paisley and Glasgow, EIS general secretary, Larry Flanagan told UnionNews: “Our members recognise we are a relatively small cog in the machine that is the UK negotiation process, but that makes it all the more commendable that they are prepared to lose a day’s salary to register their anger at how these negotiations have gone.
“We may be a small part in the national jigsaw, but we have a significant presence at establishments, such as Glasgow Caledonian and Napier University [in Edinburgh], and members there believe today’s action will also have an impact on other issues with management there.’
Education unions say Scotland’s higher education institutions have financial reserves and endowments worth around £2.6bn.
While these reserves have increased by around £600m since 2009, lecturers’ pay has been cut in real terms by over 12% during the same period.
Says Larry Flanagan: “Our universities have a combined operating surplus of over £90m a year and are set to receive real-terms increases in funding for the next two years. So why do they find it necessary to continue to cut lecturers’ pay in real terms?”
Education unions estimate that the last three annual pay awards in the higher education sector have given staff a total pay increase of 1.1%.
UNISON and Unite staff in higher education across the UK have also voted for industrial action over pay, but have not called any strike days so far.
Senior EIS reps are expected to meet tomorrow to assess today’s action and decide on their next steps.
Activists say they will also consider how branches will now enforce a 72% mandate for industrial action short of a strike.
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