Further strike dates announced in Scottish colleges “time for Scottish Government to get involved ” says UNISON 

UNISON Scotland media release  

Thursday, 21st September 2023

For immediate release

Further strike dates announced in Scottish colleges “time for Scottish Government to get involved ” says UNISON 

UNISON Scotland Further Education branch has today announced further strike dates for October 23 amidst the “worst year for industrial unrest in the college sector in living memory”.

The latest round of industrial action will see local strikes across Scotland running from the 4th to the 12th of October 23. This comes after more than 2,000 support staff in colleges across Scotland took to the picket lines on the 7th of September in a dispute over pay, terms, and conditions. That national strike day has been followed by a rolling programme of localised action in colleges across the country – action that is being stepped up.


College employers issued a pay offer at the end of May which came with a very clear threat of compulsory redundancies for college support staff.

Despite four dispute meetings, the involvement of ACAS and two proposals to resolve the dispute which would not have cost the sector a penny more for last year, there has been no movement or attempt to resolve the dispute by college employers.


If there is no further movement from college employers, the strikes will continue into the Autumn and beyond if needed  is the message from the union representing college staff

UNISON members in colleges voted overwhelmingly (93%) in April to strike.

The union represents employees who are vital to college services and student support across Scotland. They include librarians, IT specialists, technicians, administrative and business support staff, cleaners, canteen workers and estate management staff.


UNISON further education branch secretary Chris Greenshields said:


“We are heading for the worst year for industrial unrest in the sector in living memory, if we are not there already. Three unions and thousands of college staff have already taken action to defend their right to a pay rise free from threat with more strike days to follow. There is a real danger that this dispute could go on until 2024”.


“With the pay award now over a year late you might think the Scottish Government would step in to resolve the issue. Unfortunately, we have a minister who is refusing to deal with the single biggest issue facing the sector in years and saying he is unable or unwilling to get involved. College staff, students, politicians and members of the public are wondering what else can be more important than this for the Minister for Further & Higher Education. This needs urgent government involvement now”.


UNISON further education branch chair Collette Bradley said:


“Graeme Dey needs to step up and use the influence and powers that he has available to him. We are asking publicly what the Minister intends to do about the failure of employers to act in accordance with Fair Work principles such as job security, or, is Fair Work nothing more than a cheap sound bite?”


Notes to editors:

– UNISON is the union for college support staff. It is Scotland’s public service union and the largest union in Scotland.

– Colleges where UNISON has a mandate to take strike action are: City of Glasgow College; Edinburgh College; Fife College; Glasgow Clyde College; West College Scotland; North East Scotland College; Glasgow Kelvin College; Ayrshire College; Dundee & Angus College; New College Lanarkshire; UHI Argyll; UHI Moray; UHI Perth; UHI Inverness; Borders College; Dumfries & Galloway College; South Lanarkshire College; West Lothian College; Forth Valley College; Newbattle Abbey College.


4th October – Dundee & Angus College, Fife College, Glasgow Clyde College

5th October – West Lothian, North Highland, Moray College

6th October – Forth Valley, Perth College, Inverness

9th October – Dumfries & Galloway, Ayrshire College,

10th October – City of Glasgow, Glasgow Kelvin College West College Scotland

11th October – New College Lanarkshire, South Lanarkshire

12th October – North East Scotland College, Edinburgh


– The dates for further local strikes will be announced in the coming days.

– Staff were balloted in April 2023 over colleges’ failure to agree on pay and the national harmonisation of terms and conditions. The total voting in favour of strike action was 93%, with 7% voting against on a turnout of 62%