Scotland’s further education staff to strike in dispute over pay and jobs, says UNISON

Support staff, including librarians, IT specialists, administrators, cleaners, canteen workers and estate management staff, at 21 colleges in Scotland will walk out on strike today (Thursday, February 29), in a row over pay and jobs.

Staff are still waiting for a pay rise that was due in September 2022 and their employers to guarantee any pay rises won’t be at the expense of jobs.

The college workers are taking strike action as part of a dispute that has been running for 18 months. In December, the college employees voted overwhelmingly in favour of strike action to continue their campaign for fair pay and to protect jobs. This was after college staff took part in a series of strikes earlier in the year.

UNISON, the union for further education workers, says college leaders must guarantee there will no compulsory redundancies if they want to avoid further disruption.

UNISON Scotland’s further education branch secretary Chris Greenshields said: “College staff up and down the country have had enough, it has been 78 weeks since staff were due their pay rise and they are demanding that this dispute is settled free from the threat of compulsory redundancy.

“UNISON is committed to reaching a resolution to this dispute and submitted revised proposals in December to resolve matters which the colleges took over two months to reject. It beggars belief that employers haven’t even bothered to meet the unions since early December. College staff want an end to this dispute and to get back to the jobs they love – supporting learners.”

Chair of UNISON Scotland’s further education branch Collette Bradley said: “Further education in Scotland is in chaos and this dispute has now been going on for 18 months. It’s time the Scottish Government stepped in to explore every avenue to reach an agreement. No one takes the decision to strike lightly.

“We all know how important it is for students’ studies not to be disrupted. But college staff had not had a pay rise for one and a half years which has added further stress to a dedicated workforce already suffering from the cost-of-living crisis. College staff are simply demanding fair pay and no compulsory redundancies. We need to avoid any further disruption for students and local communities.”

Notes to editors:
– *The 21 colleges where strike action is due to take place are: Ayrshire College, Borders College, City of Glasgow College, Dumfries & Galloway College, Dundee & Angus College, Edinburgh College, Fife College, Forth Valley College, Glasgow Clyde College, Glasgow Kelvin College, New College Lanarkshire, Newbattle Abbey College, North East Scotland College, South Lanarkshire College, University of the Highlands and Islands (UHI) Argyll, UHI Inverness, UHI Moray, UHI North, West and Hebrides, UHI Perth, West College Scotland, and West Lothian College.

– In the December ballot asking staff if they were prepared to take further strikes, 81% voted in favour.

– UNISON is the public services union and Scotland’s largest union, representing over 2,000 workers, in further education.