Five universities in Scotland are set to be hit by strike action, after what a union described as a "totally unacceptable" pay offer.

Around 1,000 staff including technicians, cleaners, security officers, and janitors at the University of Glasgow, Dundee University, Abertay University, Edinburgh Napier and Strathclyde University have voted to walk out over a failure to reach agreement on the 2023/24 pay award.

Unite said that the "vast majority" of its members in the affected universities have had a 5-6% pay offer imposed on them, following a 3% uplift for 2022 which was described as "derisory".

Members had previously taken strike action last year after a failure to reach an agreement on pay for 2022-23.

Read More: Scottish schools set to be hit by strike closures which could last weeks

Around 1,000 staff were balloted on industrial action and have returned a mandate for a strike, with the dates expected to be released next week.

Unite said the UCEA was clearly indicating in its letter of 4th August that the 2023-24 pay round is closed and that the JNCHES (Joint Negotiating Committee for Higher Education Staff) unions do not agree with that position, given the cost of living pressures faced by their members.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “Unite has received a mandate for strike action at five universities across Scotland which could see 1,000 members taking strike action in the coming weeks.

"The UCEA (University and Colleges Employers Association) has not only failed to put a fair wage offer on the table, it is attempting to impose a real terms pay cut on all university workers which is totally unacceptable. Unite will fully support our university members in their fight for better jobs, pay and conditions.”

The UCEA said it had written to trade unions suggesting Acas facilitated talks and had been waiting close to three weeks for a response.

It also said staff had been balloted on strike action in 10 Scottish universities, with a mandate returned in only half.

Unite regional officer Alison Maclean said: “Any disruption caused by strike action will be the sole fault of the UCEA who have left our members with no other option. University workers have been repeatedly undervalued and under-appreciated for years despite keeping universities open for learning during Covid.

"We will not tolerate wage impositions at any point never mind when the UCEA can clearly afford to pay more. Unite calls on the UCEA to get back to the negotiating table before any strike action because our members and all university students deserve better”.

Raj Jethwa, UCEA's Chief Executive said: “UCEA continues to meet with Unite, UCU and the other sector trade unions to seek urgent resolution.

"UCEA has suggested an independent facilitated review of sector finances and the trade unions have stated their agreement. UCEA has suggested a joint approach to Acas for facilitation of these talks and is awaiting the trade unions’ response to this proposal. 

“This year’s pay uplift of 5-8% prioritised the disproportionate effect of high inflation falling on the lower paid.

"Nearly half of the uplift was delivered six months early to address cost of living pressures. Around half of HE staff on the New JNCHES spine will also be eligible for pay progression, typically worth 3% on top of the base pay uplift. The date of implementation of the remaining portion of the 2023-24 uplift is 1 August 2023.”