Unite ballots members amid ‘national crisis’ in Scottish higher education sector

Unite Press Release

Unite the union has today (23 September) opened an industrial action ballot involving thousands of members in all higher education institutions in Scotland. The ballot will close on 31st October.

In the ‘Finances of Scottish Universities’ published by Audit Scotland this month it was reported that Scottish universities have been subject to a real terms cut of 12 per cent (£91m) in the 7 years up to 2017/18 with more than half of Scotland’s universities running at a deficit.

A survey of all Unite members working in Higher Education also found that in excess of 60 per cent said that their pay has not kept up with the cost of living and half are not satisfied with their current level of pay.  The survey further found over 80 per cent reporting that they regularly work beyond their contracted hours and over half have considered quitting their jobs over the past 12 months.

Unite is demanding that all staff working in higher education are entitled to:

  • A pay rise of RPI plus 3 per cent or a minimum increase of £3,349 (whichever is greater)
  • A £10 per hour minimum wage
  • An end to precarious employment practices by universities
  • A reduction in excessive workloads and implementation of stress management systems
  • To achieve a 35 hour working week
  • Action to close gender and ethnic pay gaps

Alison MacLean, Unite regional industrial officer, said: “’Unite is balloting thousands of hard working and dedicated staff working across all higher education institutions in Scotland. There is a national crisis in the sector in terms of pay, funding and working conditions. The scale of this crisis has meant that over half of our members have considered quitting their job over the last year. The ballot is about sending a strong message to higher education institutions and the Scottish Government that if you want a world class system then you have got to properly fund and pay those who provide this service. It’s a disgrace that what Scotland is actually witnessing is the exact opposite of this through below inflation pay rises and real terms cuts to the sector.”


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