Staff consider strike over their pay limbo

August 31, 2007

Lecturers' leaders at Stirling University are considering industrial action over the possible downgrading of up to 350 academic-related and administrative staff, writes Melanie Newman.

The university told the staff in June that an evaluation of their roles and responsibilities had decided it was "inconclusive" whether they were in the correct pay grades on the new national pay spine. The staff face being "red circled" - having their pay frozen until their salaries are in line with those of colleagues who are on lower grades but judged to be doing equivalent work.

Iain Ferguson, local representative of the University and College Union, said its members had been led to believe most would benefit from the 2004 Framework Agreement reforms of pay and careers structure or at least suffer no detriment. "Members felt that the fact that so many have been labelled 'inconclusive' suggested that the process is deeply flawed and has left them feeling demoralised and undervalued," he said. They will meet this week to consider what forms of action, including industrial action, they might take, he added.

Most affected staff work in academic-related areas, such as library and information systems, student records and admissions, while others provide administrative and clerical support.

A Stirling spokesperson said: "An inconclusive result is exactly that. It does not mean a staff member will be downgraded. The 350 figure quoted is outdated."

UCU Scottish official David Bleiman said: "The UCU is pressing management for clarification and action to resolve members' concerns. Naturally, members are angry about being placed in an inconclusive limbo and worried about their pay. At best there is a state of confusion; at worst, a fear of widespread red circling. Stirling UCU clearly now expects management to act with energy and in full consultation to resolve the situation."

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