EIS Opens Industrial Action Ballot for Members in Higher Education

Created on: 18 Nov 2021 | Last modified: 18 Nov 2021

The EIS has opened a statutory industrial action ballot for its members in the Higher Education Sector.

Members of the EIS University Lecturers' Association (EIS-ULA) are being asked to support a programme of industrial action, up to and including strike action, in a long-running dispute over pay.

The dispute follows protracted negotiations at New JNCHES, the UK-wide negotiating body for pay in the Higher Education sector. Following the breakdown of negotiations, the Universities and Colleges Employers Association (UCEA) broke the principle of negotiating pay and imposed an offer that, for most EIS members (academic staff), amounts to a 1.5%. pay uplift.

The imposition of a sub-inflation pay offer, a real-terms pay cut, is not a new action on the part of UCEA, as they previously followed a similar course of action in 2019.

Commenting, EIS General Secretary Larry Flanagan said, “The EIS has been left with little option but to ballot our members in the Higher Education sector, as a result of entrenched intransigence from the UCEA employers’ group. The differentiated offer imposed by the employers amounts to a 1.5% pay award for most EIS-ULA members – in effect, a significant real-terms pay cut for hard-working lecturing staff.

This follows the real terms pay cuts of the sub-inflationary award imposed in 2019 and a pay freeze imposed in 2020. The Employers have now imposed the 2021-22 pay offer too - breaking the principle of negotiating pay - despite ongoing disputes with the EIS and other unions representing Higher Education staff.”

Mr Flanagan continued, “The Employers have refused a trade union request to convene a Scottish subcommittee of NEW JNCHES. This means that there is no sector collective bargaining forum in Scotland – which breaches the Scottish Government’s Fair Work aims. It is time for an element of collective bargaining to introduced in Scotland, like that for school teachers and college lecturers”.

Mr Flanagan added, “I would urge all EIS-ULA members to use their vote in this important ballot, and to vote in favour of industrial action in pursuit of a fair pay deal for Higher Education staff. As the EIS has recently demonstrated with the pay dispute at Scotland’s Rural College, industrial action can help to facilitate a fair deal in the interests of institutions, staff and students.”