Scotland’s university support staff strike for justice

UNISON members at three Scottish universities will today (Tuesday) walk out to protest against another imposed, below-inflation national pay award. They also urge their employers, the Scottish Government and sector leaders to act to do more to protect the workforce from the cost of living crisis.

UNISON members at the University of Glasgow, Edinburgh Napier University and Robert Gordon University will be taking strike action on September 20 and 21, with further action scheduled for October. UNISON members at Glasgow Caledonian University have pulled this week’s action to consider a local offer from the employer, but are also scheduled to take strike action in October if the dispute remains unresolved. Simultaneously, UNISON members at the University of Dundee are striking again this week and next in their long-running fight to protect their defined benefit pension scheme.

Lorcan Mullen, UNISON Scotland regional organiser, said: “The university staff we represent are sick to death of below-inflation pay rises, and members at these universities will be in the first wave of action on campuses this year.

“In recent days, we have seen a range of offers and impositions of one-off payments from several Scottish universities to supplement the imposed, disputed national award. This demonstrates a clear ability to pay better on a permanent basis, and our members want to fight for consolidated improvements to their pay and conditions. They also demand a serious, respectful negotiation with their representatives, not charity from on high.

“These workers kept universities running throughout the pandemic; they are indispensable to a functioning university and they cannot keep being treated as second-class citizens on Scottish campuses.

“They must be paid fairly, and treated with respect, and to achieve that UNISON is ready for talks with any sector employer.”

Notes to editors

UNISON members at almost all other Scottish universities will be balloted or re-balloted later in the autumn, meaning more of our branches are likely to join this action in time. UCU, EIS-ULA and Unite are at varying stages of consulting or balloting their members for action in the same dispute.

The disputed, imposed UCEA offer is 3% for most university staff, with some bottom loading bringing the award up to 7.2% for the lowest paid. This is still well off current inflation, projected inflation for later in this pay year, and comes after many years of worse, imposed offers than those paid to other education and public service workers in Scotland. Universities, unlike the vast majority of other public service employers, still do their pay bargaining at a UK, rather than a Scottish level.

Any communications from employers that the national offer is worth “up to 9%” are misleading – this only applies to some English institutions where this rise applied to members set to earn less than the statutory minimum wage. This does not apply at any Scottish institution.

In Scottish universities, UNISON is the largest union for professional services and support staff, representing cleaners, security officers, library workers, IT technicians, catering staff and a range of other professionals supporting educational activities.


For further information, please contact Lorcan Mullen on / 07903853116
For further information on the Dundee pensions dispute and strike action, contact Maureen Dickson on / 07940429981

Trisha Hamilton / Danny Phillips, UNISON communications officers, 07943 507 307 / 07944 664 110 ( /