Staff employed by 19 higher education institutions have commenced strike action over pay this week, starting with Glasgow Caledonian University, where employees began striking yesterday (21 November) and have continued today.
Administrators, cleaners, library, security and catering workers, some of the lowest paid in the university sector, are among those taking part. They have demanded a fair pay rise to help them cope with soaring prices, following several years of their wages not keeping up with inflation rates.
Institutions in Aberdeen, Brighton, Bristol, Edinburgh, Glasgow, London, Liverpool and Manchester will be affected by the strikes, which are also set to take place on 24, 25 and 30 November. Workers at the University of Leeds will begin industrial action on 24 November, which will run continuously until 30 November.
This is the second wave of industrial action this term, with a series of strikes at universities in England and Scotland in September and October. According to trade union Unison, with the lowest measure of inflation currently standing at 11.1%, the rise in living costs is three times greater than the offered pay increase.
Mike Short, head of education at Unison, said: “Going on strike is always a last resort, but the inadequate pay workers have been given this year is the final straw. The universities should do the right thing and come back with more money to show they care about their employees. This would help keep them in their posts so students can receive the support they need and have the best possible experience of university.”
Raj Jethwa, chief executive of the Universities and Colleges Employers Association (UCEA), added: “All [higher education] institutions fully recognise the inflationary pressures currently facing staff. While UCEA is not proposing to reopen the 2022-23 pay round, which our member [higher education] institutions have consistently confirmed as fully concluded, we are consulting on the possibility of bringing forward the New JNCHES 2023-24 pay negotiations. UCEA’s current consultation follows in-depth discussions with our members across September and October in response to cost-of-living concerns.”