Strike Action set to Resume in Scottish Colleges

More disruption looms for Scotland’s colleges if employers fail to give support staff a fair deal.

UNISON, the trade union for college support staff, has today written to the Colleges Scotland Employers’ Association and Scottish Ministers to urge a fair negotiated settlement to this long running dispute.

The row centres on the pay rise for 2016, as college bosses awarded lecturing staff a flat rate rise of £450, while all Support Staff were offered considerably less.

Earlier this month UNISON suspended planned strikes across Scotland’s colleges in an attempt to offer the employers’ association another opportunity to return to the negotiating table. Talks were held between UNISON and Colleges Scotland Employers’ Association at ACAS on October 27 and November 2, but failed to reach agreement on a fair deal for support staff.

UNISON members voted by 89% to 11% to reject the last offer from the employers made  prior to the suspension of industrial action. There have been no further talks in the interim despite the efforts of Scottish Government to broker a dialogue.

UNISON’s Further Education Committee will meet tomorrow (Wednesday) to plan its next campaign of action.

Chris Greenshields, chair of UNISON Scotland’s further education committee said:

“The Scottish Government and the Employers’ Association have a fundamental choice here on whether to do the right thing, or to further alienate and demoralise half the staff in Scotland’s colleges. Support staff are the backbone of Scotland’s colleges and don’t deserve to be treated as second-class citizens.”

John Gallacher, UNISON Scotland’s regional manager, said:

“This is a seminal juncture for the National Joint Negotiating Committee, the Scottish Government, the Employers’ Association and the sector as a whole. We need to write off the 2016 pay round negotiations as lessons learned and move forward.

“Scotland’s colleges are run by a team of people and to say that one group of staff is worth more than another is divisive and wrong. Our members are not asking for anything more than they deserve – fairness and parity with their colleagues.”

Shirley Sephton, vice chair of UNISON Scotland’s education committee said: “This strike has always been about equality of pay and terms and conditions. The employers’ last offer rewarded the high earners and not the lower-paid support staff – the majority of whom would receive no more than the previous offer.

“This latest pay offer would increase a principal’s salary, earning more than £150,000, by £2,150 – nearly ten times more than someone earning just over £22,000 who would receive £230. The ballot result reflects the anger and disappointment support staff feel at this unfair treatment by college bosses.”