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Over 2,000 college staff plan strike action over pay and jobs

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More than 2,000 members of staff across Scotland’s colleges are planning strike action over pay and jobs disputes.

According to the union Unison, more than 2,000 support staff, including librarians, IT specialists, administrators, cleaners, canteen workers and estate management staff are due to walk out this month.

The industrial action is set to affect 21 colleges across the country from Thursday, February 29.

According to Unison, staff claim they are waiting for a pay rise that was due in September 2022 and want colleges to “guarantee any pay rises won’t be at the expense of jobs”.

College Employers Scotland, which represents the higher education providers, urged Unison to cancel plans for strikes and ballot members on the “very substantial pay offer that is still on the table”.

Staff voted “overwhelmingly” in favour of action in December, the union said.

Chris Greenshields, Unison Scotland’s further education branch secretary said: “College support staff deserve a fair pay rise without the threat of compulsory redundancies.

“Nobody wants to be on strike, but staff have been left with little choice.

“The union submitted a revised proposal to try and move things along back in December and it took college bosses two months to reject it.”

Collette Bradley, chair of Unison Scotland further education committee said: “Further education in Scotland is in chaos. It’s time for ministers to step and get this dispute sorted.

“College staff have not had a pay rise for 18 months, which is completely unacceptable in the middle of a cost of living crisis. 

“Employees are simply demanding fair pay and no compulsory redundancies. If colleges want to avoid further disruption, they need to start taking those demands seriously.”

A spokesperson for College Employers Scotland said it was “regrettable” that Unison had opted to go ahead with strikes that will “only add to the disruption already experienced by students last year”.

“Unison has been offered a consolidated pay rise of £5,000 alongside other college support staff over three years,” they said.

“This is the employers’ full and final offer and remains on the table despite the exceptionally difficult financial circumstances facing colleges. If accepted, it would deliver an average pay rise of nearly 16% for support staff going back to September 2022, and 21.5% for support staff earning less than £25,000.

“Unite and GMB members have already voted overwhelmingly to accept the offer – but Unison members need to do the same before any additional money can be paid to college support staff.

“Colleges are acutely aware of the financial pressures that staff are under. That is why they want to apply the proposed pay increase in the earliest possible pay period. We therefore urge Unison to cancel plans for another strike and ballot its members on the very substantial pay offer that is still on the table from employers.”

Full list of colleges affected:

  • Ayrshire College
  • Borders College
  • City of Glasgow College
  • Dumfries & Galloway College
  • Dundee & Angus College
  • Edinburgh College
  • Fife College
  • Forth Valley College
  • Glasgow Clyde College
  • Glasgow Kelvin College
  • New College Lanarkshire
  • Newbattle Abbey College
  • North East Scotland College
  • South Lanarkshire College
  • University of the Highlands and Islands (UHI) Argyll
  • UHI Inverness
  • UHI Moray
  • UHI North, West and Hebrides
  • UHI Perth
  • West College Scotland
  • West Lothian College
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