Scotland’s university lecturers to reconsider strike action

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University lecturers in Scotland are to be re-balloted on whether to strike over pay and increasing workloads.

The Educational Institute of Scotland claimed that lecturers have seen real-terms pay fall by more than 20% over the past decade.

Last year a ballot organised by the union revealed that 84% of those that took part were in favour of industrial action, but it was unable to organise a strike because too few members took part to meet the legal mandate.

For a strike vote to be successful, unions have to achieve at least a 50% turnout of eligible members, with a majority voting in favour of industrial action. In public services such as health, education and transport an additional threshold of 40% of support from all eligible members must be met.

The new ballot, which will run until the end of January, will operate on a disaggregated basis, meaning that strike action could be taken at individual universities, should lecturers vote to do so.

Larry Flanagan, the union’s general secretary, said: “Higher education lecturers deserve a fair pay settlement, following years of pay decline. Lecturers’ pay has been cut, in real terms, by more than 20% over the past decade while the pay of University Principals has soared.”

“Workload is increasing across the sector, placing ever greater strain on lecturing staff who are working harder and longer for ever-decreasing pay. It is now time for Scotland’s higher education lecturers to take a stand and demand the fair pay deal that is due to them.”

Scotland’s higher education minister Richard Lochhead said it was up to individual universities to set pay for their staff, “Universities are autonomous institutions and matters relating to pay and working conditions and pensions are for them to determine.

“Industrial action is in no-one’s interests, especially students’, and I expect management and unions to make every effort to reach a settlement on these matters.”

Last year a strike organised by the University and College Union saw lecturers and support staff at 60 universities across the UK walk out over pay, pensions and working conditions.

Some 37 higher education establishments have been balloted by the UCU for further industrial action – some of which are being reballoted.

UCU general secretary Jo Grady said: “This is the time for employers to demonstrate they are serious about wanting to avoid further and even more widespread disruption at our universities.

‘We have been clear from the outset that UCU members are prepared to take serious and sustained action to defend their pay and conditions, as well as their pensions.”

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