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Report shows how Scottish university bosses enjoyed healthy pay rises while forcing down staff pay

20 January 2014 | last updated: 10 December 2015

Principals in Scotland's universities enjoyed an average pay rise of more than 4% in 2012/2013, despite telling staff they had to accept just 1% because finances were tight.

One principal enjoyed a massive 24% rise and another saw her pay rocket by 11%, according to new figures released today.

The University and College Union (UCU), whose members are in dispute with universities over pay, said the revelations were an embarrassment to the sector and would harden members' resolve ahead of the first in a series of two-hour walkouts on Thursday.

UCU Scottish official, Mary Senior, said: 'The hypocrisy of principals taking pay rises of up to 24% last year will not be lost on staff working in universities.  These are the same university principals who have talked down to their staff and told them to accept a 1% rise - representing yet another real-terms pay cut - as it is the best they can expect.

'We are not against people being well paid for doing a good job. We just don't understand why the people who work so hard in our universities are offered real-terms pay cuts while those at the top receive such arbitrary rises.

'What is acutely embarrassing for the sector is the complete lack of self-awareness from principals over their pay rises. These revelations are as insulting as they are unfair and underline the urgent need for greater scrutiny of principals' pay and a role for staff and students on remuneration committees.'

'These controversial rises will galvanise union members in their fight for fair pay, which continues this week with the first of our two-hour walkouts.'

On Thursday universities across the UK will face ongoing disruption of teaching if the increasingly fractious dispute over staff pay is not resolved in the next few days. Lectures, seminars, tutorials and practicals will be at risk of cancellation as UCU members walk out for two hours over a series of days.

The first three two-hour stoppages will take place at these times:

Thursday 23 January 11am-1pm

Tuesday 28 January 2pm-4pm

Monday 10 February 9am-11am

This latest action follows two days of strike action last year and will take place against a backdrop of UCU members already working to contract. The industrial action has escalated after the university employers refused to improve a 'miserly' 1% pay offer. UCU says the latest 1% offer was an insult too far after members have seen their pay fall by 13% in real terms since 2009.

UCU pointed out that the university sector is in good financial shape (.pdf) and warned that if there was no breakthrough after this round of two hour stoppages then it will think about the need to further escalate its action towards a marking boycott targeted at exams.

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