Scottish college workers vote to strike in pay dispute

College employers urged to use negotiations on 25 August to agee pay fairness or strikes will mark the start of new academic year

Scotland’s college employers will have one more chance to avoid strikes by support workers at negotiations scheduled for later this month, after UNISON members voted for strike action in a dispute over pay.

College lecturers were offered a £400 flat-rate pay increase – but employers only offered an increase of £230 a year to support staff.

Now UNISON staff –including administrative, cleaning and catering workers – have voted for strikes if employers do not offer them the same as teaching staff in the negotiating meeting scheduled for 25 August.

“Our demand is simple and fair: pay college support staff the same amount that you gave to our teaching colleagues,” UNISON Scotland further education committee chair Chris Greenshields said after the ballot result was announced yesterday.

“We work for the same colleges, help deliver the same courses, support the same students and deserve the same cost of living increase.”

Strikes would disrupt colleges when the new academic year starts at the end of the month, including a new flagship City College in Glasgow, which opens its doors to students for the first time on 5 September.

National bargaining is relatively new in Scotland. UNISON organiser John Gallacher commented: “The new national bargaining machinery needs to deliver and make progress and the 2016 pay settlement is a good place to start.

“The Scottish government needs to give additional funding to this deprived sector as they promised in the last Scottish Parliament elections.”

He added that “striking is a last resort, but we will support our members in every way possible to achieve the same fair and reasonable pay settlement as already paid out to teaching colleagues.”

UNISON Scotland website