There is still time – vote YES/YES in FE ballot

FE SUPPORT WORKERS* The ballot is now closed * Further education members to launch autumn strike campaign

Time is running out to cast your vote in UNISON’s FE support staff ballot which will close tomorrow (Tuesday, August 16) at 10am.

John Gallacher, Scottish Organiser for UNISON, explains here why a YES/YES vote is important:

College support staff and lecturers were promised a return to national bargaining and a commitment to deliver equal pay across the Scottish college sector.

In reality, neither of these promises have been delivered, more over the opposite has actually transpired. Colleges Scotland’s Employers Association has negotiated a pay settlement with the EIS trade union for lecturing staff consisting of a flat rate increase of £450 for 2016/17 and a commitment to complete harmonisation of lecturing salaries across the sector by April 2019.

It has now been officially confirmed that a one of Scotland’s colleges has approved a bespoke pay award for managers – 1.5% to be backdated to 1st April 2015 and a further 2% from 1st April 2016. This decision has now created a three-tier workforce within this particular college.


• An average middle manager’s salary of £42k per annum, they will receive £630 backdated pay to 1st April 2015 and will receive £840 from to 1st April 2016. Giving to total pay award over two years being a 3.5% increase and an average of £1470 in real monetary terms over two years.

•We have support staff who fall into the pay scale of £22K and above who are being offered £230 from The Employers Association for 2016/17. This is a huge differential even in one year alone, and results in a loss on average of £230 from the 2015/16 pay settlement of £300+£100 (consolidation of £100 still in negotiation). Support staff in the middle pay bracket of £22k and above are losing £610 for this 2016/17. Therefore over 2 years they are short of an average of £840.

•The total amount of a pay award being offered to this group of support staff workers over two years is £630 v £1470, the very same figure this particular college has agreed and officially informed the managerial (not leadership) staff members involved they will receive £630 for year ONE at 1.5%.

•A support staff member earning under £22k and under: received £300+£100 for 2015/16 totalling £400 in comparison to their manager who works for the same employer earning an average of £42k per annum, who will receive £630 leaving them short of £230 for the first year 2015/16. Whilst the employer’s side has issued a revised final offer of £400 for this staff group, again in comparison to their managers within the college who earn an average of £42K and receive a 2% rise from 1st April 2016 at £840 thus, this falls short of £440 for this year alone. Therefore over 2 years they are short of an average of an average of £670.

We cannot allow this kind of discrimination to continue, as it all falls way short of the promise’s made to deliver equal pay and UNISON’s policy of flat rate pay increases across the sector.

The UNISON FE sector will take any and all the necessary steps to prosecute an industrial dispute to secure equal pay, flat rate increases and parity of esteem from the FE employers.

As we have spoken to many UNISON members across the sector, they have stated they have voted YES/YES to reject the current offer and are committed to executing strike action should the UNISON members ballot give a mandate to take industrial strike action. Throughout the Scottish national FE sector, from East to West and North to South let’s stand together, let our voices be heard!  VALUE yourself, VALUE your WORTH and let’s tell our employers and the National Employers Association that we are not willing to accept being classed at the bottom of a three tier system.
Lecturers have agreed and negotiated a flat rate settlement over two years, and a commitment to complete harmonisation of lecturing salaries across the sector by April 2019, up to £40,000 per annum.

2015/16                                                                           £400
2016/17                                                                           £450
Total                                                                                £850

Support staff over 22k over 2 years                                 £630
Support staff earning over 22k would receive                  £220 less than lecturing colleagues
Support staff under 22K over 2 years                               £800
Support Staff earning 22k or under would receive            £50  less than lecturing colleagues

Bespoke managers pay award over 2 years                     £1470

Support staff over 22k would receive over 2 years            £630

Support staff earning over 22k would receive                    £840 less than their managers
Support staff under 22K would receive over 2 years          £840

Support staff earning 22k or under would receive              £670 less than their managers

Do these figures look equal to you? Does this look like a flat rate pay offer? Does this promote parity of esteem within the FE sector. Support staff are already at breaking point which was highlighted by the original findings of UNISON’s Stress and Bullying at Work survey? If you can answer NO to all three questions, the logical response is to VOTE YES/YES for a NATIONAL STRIKE.

The ballot closes tomorrow (Tuesday, August 16) at 10am. If you have not cast your vote and posted it, the UNISON FE sector endorse and encourage you to do so by voting YES/ YES.

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