Scottish government must show more urgency to resolve colleges dispute,

UNISON is to meet Graeme Dey, the Scottish minister for further education, tomorrow at St. Andrews House to demand he intervenes to end strikes in colleges across the country.

Staff who belong to UNISON voted overwhelmingly (93%) in April to take action in a dispute over pay, and terms and conditions.

More than 2,000 college support staff are continuing a second round of strike action in a different college each day for the next week from today (Wednesday) to next Thursday (12 October), says UNISON. This action follows a national strike in Scottish colleges last month (6 September).

But still, employers have failed to come up with an improved offer, says UNISON.  The union is looking for assurances that employers will withdraw threats of compulsory redundancies, and is warning that unless the minister intervenes, strikes will continue into the autumn.

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

UNISON Scottish secretary Lilian Macer said: “The Scottish government must get around the table and resolve this dispute. Ministers are standing idly by while the lowest-paid college workers are still waiting for a pay rise due over a year ago, just as college leaders are threatening huge job cuts.

“This dispute is resolvable, but college employers are out of their depth. The Scottish government must intervene. These staff are vital in supporting working people back into the labour market, helping families lift themselves out of poverty, and giving young people a second chance.”

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.

– Strikes are taking place as follows:

  • 4 October – Dundee & Angus College, Fife College, Glasgow Clyde College
  • 5 October – West Lothian, North Highland, Moray College
  • 6 October – Forth Valley, Perth College, Inverness
  • 9 October – Dumfries & Galloway, Ayrshire College,
  • 10 October – City of Glasgow, Glasgow Kelvin College, West College Scotland
  • 11 October – New College Lanarkshire, South Lanarkshire
  • 12 October – North East Scotland College, Edinburgh

– Staff were balloted in April 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%.