Hundreds of university support staff gathered in Glasgow on Tuesday in protest over what unions have said represents a real-terms pay cut.
Members of Unite, Unison, EIS Further Education Lecturers Association (EIS-Fela) and the University and Colleges Union (UCU) held a rally at the Buchanan Steps in protest against a “real-terms pay cut” of 5% to 6% which unions say has been “imposed” on them.
Support staff including janitors, technicians and cleaners held picket lines at the University of Glasgow, University of Dundee, University of Abertay, Glasgow Caledonian University, University of Strathclyde and Glasgow School of Art on a second day of rolling strike action which began on Monday.
They joined academic colleagues at Glasgow, Stirling, Aberdeen, Dundee and Strathclyde universities who have been embroiled in a separate dispute with university employers over pay and working conditions, and pay deductions.
College support staff at three colleges have also walked out as part of a separate dispute over pay which involves around 100 members.
Those based at Glasgow institutions walked from their workplaces to the Buchanan Steps to hear speeches from union officials including Roz Foyer, general secretary of the STUC.
University of Glasgow education lecturer Matthew Thomas tweeted: “I’m on strike today. Yes, again.
“I hate striking.
“I hate missing time teaching students, conducting research, and working with colleagues.
“I also hate losing salary.
I'm on strike today. Yes, again. 🪧
TBH, I hate striking. I hate missing time teaching students, conducting research, and working with colleagues. I also hate losing salary.
— Matthew A.M. Thomas (@MThomasEdDev) September 19, 2023
“But this higher education sector is unethical, unsustainable, and underappreciated.”
Allison Buchanan, chair of Unison’s Scottish higher education committee, said: “This is yet another real-terms pay cut for university staff.
“The employer has imposed an early settlement on members without reaching agreement with the union. University staff play a crucial role in supporting students through university and they deserve better.
“Unison has appealed to the Scottish Government to help find a solution. The minister seems willing to allow the strikes to proceed rather than ensuring hard-working university staff are paid fairly.
“Employers must get back around the table, reopen negotiations and give university workers the fair pay they deserve.”
UCU’s Scotland official Mary Senior said: “No-one wants to take strike action but the actions of the employers and UCEA mean that we are again beginning the start of a new academic term with industrial action.
“Last year university bosses made clear that they were prepared to sit back and see students suffer rather than negotiate a fair offer on pay and working conditions.
“Their refusal to resolve the dispute means that the action continues with universities across Scotland and the UK holding five days of strike action before the end of September.
“UCU has sought to settle this dispute at every opportunity.
“We desperately hope university principals realise that we are going nowhere without a fair settlement and make us a realistic offer.
“If they do not, as well as campuses being marred by picket lines during the start of term, we will look to continue action well into 2024.”
University and college employers have been approached for comment.