The president of the National Union of Students Scotland has issued a call to all college students backing the FE support staff who are striking for Fair Pay.
Vonnie Sandlan told UNISON organisers today that an email had been sent to all sabbatical posts in colleges in support of the claim by trade union staff.
“When it comes to industrial action, NUS Scotland’s position is clear – we will always show solidarity with fellow unions, standing fully behind our staff, and we want to see them getting the job recognition and reward they deserve.”
The full text of the email is below.
See more on the strike on our FE page
From: Vonnie Sandlan
Sent: 22 September 2016 12:29
Subject: Further strike action
Hello College Officers,
I wanted to get in touch as you will no doubt have seen the news, or heard about it on your campus, of a fresh round of strike by college support staff. It will be happening next Tuesday, the 27th September and you can find out more here, https://unison-scotland.org/2016/09/20/more-strikes-announced-as-college-support-staff-continue-campaign-for-fair-pay-says-unison/
When it comes to industrial action, NUS Scotland’s position is clear – we will always show solidarity with fellow unions, standing fully behind our staff, and we want to see them getting the job recognition and reward they deserve. Over the past few years, our colleges have been increasingly expected to do more with less. At a time of ongoing regionalisation and merger, it’s absolutely vital that there are the staff in place to deliver the proposed benefits – and those benefits can never simply be about the bottom line or trying to squeeze money out of our lecturers and support staff pockets, through low pay, in exactly the same way it can’t be squeezed out of students pockets, with the ongoing crisis we know exists with FE student support.
Unlike previous pay disputes involving lecturing staff, this pay dispute involves college support staff – staff we should never forget about, and the vital role they play. They are the estate staff who keep buildings and services running; cleaning staff who ensure our campuses are kept to the highest quality possible; classroom assistants and librarians who provide vital support and help to students; and, countless more staff who work behind the scenes and often don’t get the recognition they deserve for quite simply keeping our colleges going.
While mergers and regionalisation can potentially present opportunities for savings to be made, that should never be at the expense of having the necessary staffing in place to keep teaching quality high and student services running. It’s not hard to see how job losses and low pay affect students, and it would be entirely wrong if their experience suffered because staff are losing jobs or feeling demoralised or underappreciated for the important roles they play.
All that said, however, no matter the position nationally of NUS Scotland, we can never and will never dictate policy to students associations locally, and your response is yours to make. Our main role is to work with students’ associations and staff unions to ensure staff get a fair deal, but that our members don’t suffer adversely as a result.
If you haven’t had the chance to do so already, I would urge you to make contact with your local Unison and/or GMB campus branch – the two trade unions involved in this dispute, and start a conversation about the dispute and how you can both support each other to get the best result for your respective members. If you need any help with making that contact then get in touch and we can help you with that.
Strike action is never easy for anyone involved – be it the staff who do not take the choice to undertake it lightly, or the students who see the effects play out on their campus. If you need any support communicating the action to your members, or how to respond, then please do get in touch – we’re here to support you. Going forward, government and colleges need to recognise the importance of fairly paid, highly motivated staff for the success of our colleges. We’ll be continuing to press the Scottish government to find the right level of funding for colleges through future budgets, which delivers for staff and students.
With best regards,
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See more on the strike on our FE page