Scottish FE workers vote on £425 a year pay rise

UNISON recommends members accept ‘cap-busting’ offer in ballot which closes on 26 July

UNISON members working in Scottish further education colleges are voting on a pay offer after the joint unions – UNISON, Unite and the GMB – and employers agreed a final proposal last week.

The UNISON ballot opened on Wednesday 5 July and closes on Wednesday 26 July.

UNISON and the other unions are recommending that members accept the offer which includes:

  • a £425 a year pay rise for all full-time support staff, and pro rata for part-time workers;
  • five extra days annual leave, bringing the entitlement to 44 days;
  • a minimum wage that equal the living wage (£8.45 an hour).

If accepted, the pay increase will be backdated to 1 April.

The offer covers some 5,500 workers at 20 of Scotland’s 26 FE colleges, where bargaining is covered by the sector’s national joint negotiating council or NJNC. These include staff working in finance, ICT, library and information services, student support, guidance, catering, cleaning, estates and other jobs.

“This proposal breaks the government’s 1% pay cap in the public sector,” says college worker Chris Greenshields who chairs the UNISON Scotland FE committee (pictured above, centre, during the 2016 pay round that needed industrial action).

But he added: “It is still not overly generous given inflation at 2.8% and recent trends. Public sector workers’ pay has been held back for years.”

He said that, while the proposal represents “the third of three decent settlements in 2015, 2016 and this year” in Scottish colleges, “pay has still not kept up with prices.”

UNISON Scotland head of bargaining John Gallagher said that the pay talks, which concluded last week, “prove that the national bargaining machinery in Scottish further education can deliver positive outcomes for staff and colleges through rational and mature talks.

“Hopefully, it is a watershed moment,” he added, which will allow unions and employers to move forward on outstanding issues including job evaluation, pay and grading and terms and conditions.

But he warned that achieving “a fully comprehensive pay and grading model and set of conditions of service for support staff across all Scottish colleges will require investment by government and the funding council.”