Pay Dispute 2021: The Difference is Striking

Created on: 10 Nov 2021 | Last modified: 10 May 2022

The ballot is now closed.

In the most difficult of circumstances, EIS-ULA has been left with little option but to ballot its members, in the face of entrenched intransigence from your employers.

Every vote, including your vote, counts as we work towards reaching the 50% turnout threshold that is legally required for industrial action

Following extended negotiations at New JNCHES, the Universities and Colleges Employers Association (UCEA) has broken the principle of negotiating pay and imposed an offer that, for most EIS members (academic staff), amounts to a 1.5%. 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 members may remember that they followed a similar course of action in 2019.

This imposed pay offer is differentiated across the pay spine, while being weighted towards the bottom grades.  The 1.5% that impacts most EIS members represents a figure that is both significantly below the joint claim made by the five Higher Education Trade Unions and below inflation (which is currently running at 4.9% RPI).

Members will be mindful that this imposed offer was already rejected in the summer of 2021.

Such a willingness to forgo negotiation and to impose unsatisfactory pay offers was concerning prior to the COVID-19 pandemic; however, given the significant increase in your workload, your adaptation to new ways of working and your success in continuing to provide quality higher education in a deeply challenging context, the actions of your employers in regard to your pay belies a total disregard for your efforts, your commitment and your determination to deliver.

Further to this, UCEA refused a Trade Union request to convene a Scottish subcommittee of NEW JNCHES (the collective pay bargaining machinery), meaning that there is no sector collective bargaining forum in Scotland – which breaches the Scottish Government’s Fair Work agenda.  

As this is a statutory ballot, there are number of important actions required of members to ensure that your vote is cast:

  • Ensure that your EIS membership details are up to date (if you are unsure please contact

  • Keep an eye out for your postal ballot arriving by the end of next week. If it does not arrive, please contact  

  • When you have voted, please tell your branch representatives, or EIS organiser (found here). This will allow your union to track progress as best as possible against the challenges of anti-trade union legislation.

  • Follow EIS-ULA on twitter (@ULA_EIS) for updates on the campaign and campaign events.

  • Encourage your fellow EIS-ULA members to do the same.

Against a backdrop of employer intransigence and a lack of value in your profession and your commitment, during a pandemic, every EIS-ULA member is being urged to use their vote and to vote YES to both action short of strike and strike action. Reaching the ballot turnout of 50% is crucial in sending the strongest possible message to your employers that enough is enough and that it is time to make a difference.

That difference can only be made by taking action. This has been recently illustrated by the strong and successful action taken by EIS members at the SRUC.

The difference is striking.