New wave of industrial action threatens Scotland’s troubled FE sector

20160201draftpressreleaseicon01Scotland’s college support staff could be forced to take strike action if college bosses fail to deliver on promises.

The staff – represented by UNISON Scotland, UNITE and GMB – have lodged the collective dispute over their 2016 pay settlement and for failure to implement their 2015 pay award in full. The move follows recent industrial action in Scotland’s 26 colleges by teaching staff (represented by EIS/FELA).

If crunch meetings scheduled later this month fail, then the troubled sector could be headed for its second national strike within a few months.

Chris Greenshields, chair of UNISON Scotland in further education, said:

“Our demand is simple and fair. As a minimum our members should receive parity with our teaching colleagues in the EIS. There should be equality of treatment for workers in the same sector, within the same national bargaining machinery and with same local employers. There is no reason for anything short of equal treatment. The employers reportedly worked through the night seven weeks ago to reach a deal with the EIS, however, support staff have only been offered postponements and excuses since we submitted our claim eleven weeks ago. Support staff in colleges deserve better”.

Shirley Sephton, vice chair of UNISON Scotland in further education, said:

“Our members deliver key support services to colleges and students including finance, admissions, bursary services and estates. We would not wish to see these services disrupted by industrial action during 2016. Some of our members have not yet receive a penny of their 2015 pay settlement and management are now failing to stick to an agreed timetable for meetings for the 2016 pay claim. This should have been finalised and implemented by 1st April 2016.”

John Gallacher, UNISON lead officer for FE, said:

“UNISON wishes to make a success of the new national bargaining arrangements put in place by the SNP Government. However, the machinery seems to lurch between paralysis and crisis. The Scottish FE bosses really need to get their act together, create momentum and deliver a fair and equal pay and grading structure, and set of terms and conditions of employment for all staff who work in the 26 new colleges.”


1. There are some 4,400 support staff in Scotland’s FE colleges delivering a range of services (finance, admissions, bursaries, estates, libraries, information technology, catering and cleaning, operational management)

2. Talks are due to take place later this month (May 12 and 19)
3. A claim for £1,000 was lodged on 18 February 2016 on behalf of support staff with a settlement date of April 1, 2016.

4. Following a one day strike on Thursday 17 March 2016, teaching staff struck a two year deal which saw a flat rate increase of £450 from 1 April 2016 for all teaching staff in Scottish Colleges.

• Chris Greenshields, chair of UNISON Scotland in further education, 07521914357
• Shirley Sephton, vice chair of UNISON Scotland in further education, 0777891123
• John Gallacher, UNISON lead officer for FE, 07904 342 426