College staff across Scotland have been given a “final” offer of a £5,000 increase over three years in a long-running dispute over pay.
Fresh talks took place between College Employers Scotland (CES), EIS Further Education Lecturers Association (EIS-Fela) and the three unions representing support staff, Unite, Unison and GMB.
Last month, members of the EIS-Fela took two weeks of rolling strike action as part of the dispute.
CES has urged unions to put the offer of a consolidated £5,000 pay increase covering the 2022/23, 2023/24 and 2024/25 academic years.
The employers’ body said the offer would deliver an average pay rise of 11.5%.
Previously, CES had offered £3,500 over two years, which represented £2,000 for 2022/23 and £1,500 for 2023/24.
Those at the start of the national pay scale would benefit from a rise of 14.2%.
College support staff would see nearly 16%, with staff who earn less than £25,000 receiving 21.5%, CES claimed.
The body has also provided a new commitment that any compulsory redundancies would not be directly related to the new three-year pay offer.
Gavin Donoghue, director of CES, said: “This is a very fair pay offer for college staff and would provide significant pay rises, especially now inflation has fallen to 4.6% and is forecast to decline further.
“These proposed pay rises have also been offered against a backdrop of serious financial stress and challenge for colleges, including an 8.5% real-terms reduction in Scottish Government funding since 2021/22.
“Delivering the full and final three-year offer will already test college finances and employers simply cannot afford to go beyond it.
“Colleges are also aware of trade union concerns over job security. That is why our full and final pay offer includes a written commitment that, despite the financial pressures facing the sector, any compulsory redundancies will not be related directly to this pay award.
“Given the financial pressures facing colleges, and the very fair pay award on the table, we urge the EIS-Fela and support staff unions to recommend the employers’ full and final three-year pay offer to their members in a ballot. This would allow college staff to benefit from the proposed pay rise as soon as possible.”
Speaking at a meeting of the public audit committee at the Scottish Parliament on Thursday, EIS national officer Stephen Brown said the sector was “in crisis” due to funding cuts.
Unions have been contacted for comment on the latest offer.
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