College support staff to strike in Scotland over pay and conditions

Those taking strike action will include librarians, IT specialists, technicians, cleaners and canteen workers.

College support staff to strike in Scotland next week over pay and conditions PA Media

College support staff are to take strike action next week in a dispute over pay, terms, and conditions.

Unison said more than 2,000 members in colleges across Scotland will walk out on Thursday, September 7.

The national strike day will be followed by a rolling programme of dates for localised action in colleges across the country.

The union claimed that although college employers have increased their offer from 2% to a £3,500 flat-rate payment over two years, this comes with a real threat of compulsory redundancies of support staff.

Those walking out next week will include librarians, IT specialists, technicians, administrative and business support staff, cleaners, canteen workers and estate management staff.

Members voted by 93% in April to strike on a turnout of 62%.

Unison further education branch secretary Chris Greenshields said: “College staff were due this pay increase a year ago. It’s unacceptable, even by the standards of the college sector, to take this long to agree a pay deal.

“The employers’ idea of a resolution to the crisis is to threaten our members with compulsory redundancy.

“Effectively members are being asked to pay for their own pay rise with their job, during a cost-of-living crisis.

“We need the same guarantee that has been given to the rest of the public sector that there will be no compulsory redundancies.

“Unison has appealed to the Scottish government to help us find a solution – employers must extend the no compulsory redundancy guarantee to college staff. Colleges are publicly funded but the Government refuses to intervene.

“The minister seems willing to allow the strikes to proceed rather than ensure staff get a decent pay rise.”

Colleges where Unison has a mandate to take strike action are: City of Glasgow College, Edinburgh College, Fife College, Glasgow Clyde College, West College Scotland, North East Scotland College, Glasgow Kelvin College and Ayrshire College.

It also has a mandate for action at Dundee & Angus College, New College Lanarkshire, UHI Argyll, UHI Moray, UHI Perth, UHI Inverness, Borders College, Dumfries & Galloway College, South Lanarkshire College, West Lothian College, Forth Valley College, Newbattle Abbey College.

Gavin Donoghue, director of College Employers Scotland, said: “It is disappointing that Unison has announced national strike action. Colleges will now seek to put in place measures to mitigate the effects of any proposed action on their students’ education.

“College Employers Scotland provided a full and final pay offer to all support staff trade unions (Unison, Unite and GMB) in June for a cumulative £3,500 pay rise.

“Employers have requested support staff unions take this pay offer to their members for a formal ballot, as it would equate to an average 11% pay increase, and an average increase of 14% for those paid under £25,000.

“Employers have also committed to managing organisational change through voluntary measures in accordance with the Fair Work agenda. Any compulsory measures would only be used as a last resort when all other measures have been considered.

“We hope Unison calls off these damaging strikes so colleges can continue to provide the world-class learning experience that students rightly expect and deserve.”

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