SQA workers vote for strike action over pay

The Scottish Qualifications Authority is due to be overhauled as part of education reforms.

SQA workers vote for strike action over pay iStock

Workers at Scotland’s school exams body have voted to strike in a dispute over pay.

Unite members at the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) backed industrial action by 72% on an 80% turnout.

The union said its members work in all grades and job roles at the nation’s education qualifications body including administrators, managers, processors and researchers.

The pay dispute centres on the SQA’s two-year pay offer for 2023 and 2024. Unite said the deal would mean no more than a 5.75% rise in 2023 and 3.15% in 2024.

“The resounding mandate for strike action is a direct result of senior management’s failure to make a fair pay offer,” said Unite’s general secretary Sharon Graham.

“Unless this is quickly addressed then our members will have no option but to take strike action in the fight for better jobs, pay and conditions at the SQA.”

The union also said than around 38% of SQA workers have “hit a pay ceiling” and are not eligible for any pay progression.

Alison Maclean, Unite industrial officer, said: “We will now discuss potential dates for industrial action which could affect the SQA’s ability to provide exam results next year.”

The Scottish Government had planned to scrap the SQA in summer 2024 but announced in June that those plans would not go ahead.

As part of an overhaul of Scotland’s education system, legislation to establish new bodies, including a separate inspections agency, will be introduced after ministers have considered the findings of the Independent Review of Qualifications and Assessment published in June.

Unite said it had not been given clarity of how the SQA’s replacement organisation will operate.

“It simply isn’t good enough, which is why the Scottish Government and SQA management repeatedly fail our members’ confidence test,” Ms Maclean said.

Unite said it had raised concerns over a lack of “meaningful” consultation with the trade unions on education reform.

Unite said it had specific concerns over the scrapping of the SQA, and the lack of assurances over job roles and locations, conditions and pay of the existing workforce, in any new organisation.

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