Strike ballots are going out to UNISON’s members across Scottish universities after employers imposed a mediocre pay offer across the UK.

While some lower-paid staff will receive more, the headline offer of 1.8% is well below the going rate for Scottish public services, and insulting given the astronomical pay given to university bosses.

Lorcan Mullen, UNISON regional organiser for Scottish higher education said: “Every Scottish university principal earns more than the Prime Minister and First Minister, and at least four earn more than both put together. In that context, years of mediocre, imposed pay offers for the rest of their staff just isn’t good enough.

“The majority of HE staff being offered a rise of 1.8% is well below what we have asked for and well below the going rate for Scottish public services. Ballot papers are being sent out to all our members across the UK, including Scotland, and we urge UNISON members to vote to strike.”

UNISON represents professional and support services staff in this sector, and is balloting on the same timetable as academic union UCU across the UK.

UNISON is urging its members to return ballot papers, as a 50% turnout is necessary for a legal ballot following the Tories anti-Trade Union Act passed in 2016.

Turnout will also be a de-facto mandate for next year’s negotiations: given the bullish attitude of the employers’ association, people need to back their negotiators and use their vote.

Members have until October 30th to cast their postal ballot.

UNISON is running a national ballot of our higher education members and asking them to vote YES for strike action to demand an improved pay offer. Ballot papers will arrive in a brown envelope to your home address from 9 September. If you haven’t received your ballot paper by 12 September, please call the ballot helpline on 0800 0 857857.


UNISON pushed hard for a decent pay rise for our members. Along with the other unions, our pay claim was for:
• a rise of RPI plus 3%, or a minimum increase of £3,349;
• £10 per hour minimum rate of pay;
• all universities to become accredited by the Living Wage Foundation;
• a 35-hour working week;
• action to close the gender and ethnicity pay gaps;
• action to reduce excessive workloads and combat stress.

The employers’ offer:
University employers offer falls short, with the majority of HE staff being offered a rise of 1.8%, and lower paid staff offered between 1.82% and 3.65%.

UNISON Contacts:
Lorcan Mullen, regional organiser for higher education: 07903 853116
Danny Phillips / Trisha Hamilton, communications officer: 0141 342 2877 or 07944 664110