Universities cost-of-living strike – UNISON announces dates at four institutions

UNISON Scotland members at four Scottish universities are set to strike for five days in September and October, seriously disrupting freshers’ week and the first weeks of teaching at a number of institutions.

UNISON members at Glasgow, Glasgow Caledonian, Napier and Robert Gordon universities will take strike action on September 19th, 20th, 21st and October 3rd and 4th. With UNISON branches at other institutions set to either ballot or re-ballot over the same dispute, other Scottish sites may join the action later in the autumn. UNISON members at the University of Dundee will also strike for two weeks from September 19th in a bitter dispute concerning local pension provision.

Davena Rankin, Glasgow Caledonian UNISON branch secretary, said: “Strike action is never easy, least of all for low-paid university workers like cleaners, security officers and library assistants. With the sector’s UK pay negotiating machinery imposing yet another disputed below-inflation award, UNISON members have been left with no choice but to fight back.

“We are proud of the strong mandates received at these four institutions, and the onus is on these employers and the sector to show they’ll act to protect hard-working staff from this cost of living crisis.”

Lorcan Mullen, UNISON Scotland’s head of higher and further education, said: “The pay inequalities in this largely publicly-funded sector are obscene, and that hurts low-paid staff all the more with living costs running so high. UCEA, the Scottish Government, individual universities and sector leaders have a moral responsibility to act with urgency and seriousness on the cost-of-living crisis in Scotland’s universities. UNISON Scotland is always open to talks, but continuing failure on the part of employers will be met with robust collective action.”


  1. UNISON represents professional and support services roles like library workers, IT technicians, cleaners, administrators and security officers.
  2. The imposed UK pay offer is below inflation for all grades, and is 3% for most staff. As previous imposed awards fell well below inflation and norms for Scottish public services, university workers started this pay round at a particular disadvantage.
  3. UNISON’s policy position is to conduct pay negotiations for Scotland’s universities at a Scottish negotiating table, as we do for health, local government, police, fire, water and further education. At this point in time, the Scottish universities are completely opposed to this move.
  4. Other sector unions like UCU (academics and senior staff) EIS-ULA (academics, largely at ‘post-92’ universities) and Unite (technicians, estates and support staff at some universities) may also strike universities later this year, and are at varying stages of balloting their members on industrial action.