Edinburgh, Heriot-Watt and Napier university staff ballot over strike after rejecting 'unacceptable' pay offer

Cleaners, janitors, technicians and other staff at 11 Scottish universities are being balloted for strike action over pay.

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The Unite union said the move, involving around 2,000 of its members, follows an “unacceptable” offer which would mean an increase of as little as 3.1 per cent for some staff.

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The universities involved are Edinburgh, Heriot-Watt, Napier, Aberdeen, Abertay, Dundee, Glasgow, Glasgow Caledonian, Glasgow School of Art, St Andrew’s and Strathclyde. It is the first time in Scotland that Unite has balloted simultaneously across this number of universities.

The staff being balloted are part of a UK nationwide pay dispute with the University and College Employers Association (UCEA).

Unite pointed out that Edinburgh University principal Peter Mathieson is understood to have an annual salary around £363,000, while Glasgow University principal Anton Muscatelli earns around £368,000, according to the latest financial reports.

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Sharon Graham, Unite general secretary said: “The pay offer on the table from the UCEA is completely unacceptable at a time when inflation is 12.3 per cent. The pay inequalities across Scottish universities are outrageous in a sector which is totally dependent on public money.

"No university principal is facing a cost of living crisis but our members certainly are and this offer which represents a massive pay cut can only make that worse. They will have our full support in this fight for better jobs, pay and conditions.”

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Edinburgh University is among the 11 universities which have been balloted over strike action. Inset: Sharon Graham, Unite general secretary

And Unite industrial officer Alison MacLean added: “The UCEA has refused to reopen pay negotiations despite Unite and all trade unions arguing that they must come back to the table. A number of Scottish universities are also recognising that the offer is so poor they are encouraging a new one to be made to the workforce. It’s the first time ever that Unite is simultaneously balloting for strike action across so many Scottish universities but that’s a testament to the anger our members feel right now.”

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The ballot opened today (27 September) and closes on 21 October.

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