UNISON hails historic pay deal for further education support staff in Scotland

Date: Friday 22 January 2016

UNISON has led negotiations to achieve the first ever national pay rise for over four thousand support staff in Scotland‘s Further Education Colleges. Support staff deliver a range of vital student services and are key to the running of the 25 new colleges in Scotland.

The deal was agreed at the new National Joint Negotiating Committee (NJNC) in Edinburgh. (Orkney, Shetland and SRUC are not in scope of the new machinery). It is the first agreement since the recent college mergers. UNITE and GMB unions are also party to the national negotiations

UNISON members will receive between 1-2% pay rise. Those on lower salaries will receive a higher percent rise because of the agreement to pay the living wage and £300 flat rate increase

Key features are consolidation of the real Living Wage rate of £7.85 per hour from 1 April 2015; a flat rate of £300 for all those earning under £30k per year; a standard 35 hour week across the sector; and a minimum 27 days annual leave across the sector; and 2 days extra leave for all.

Employers and trade unions have also committed to negotiate a new single pay structure and new single set of conditions of service for all staff; as well as attainment of official Living Wage accreditation of all Colleges by the end of 2016.

Chris Greenshields, Chair of UNISON Scotland’s further education sector said:
“UNISON is pleased to have achieved the first ever national settlement for further education support staff in Scotland. UNISON is the union for college support staff and there is something for all our members in this negotiated package. I want to congratulate UNISON members for helping to ensure all low paid workers in Scotland’s Colleges are now guaranteed the Living Wage plus £300. We will continue the work hard for more gains in the 2016, in particular an equal flat rate settlement for all workers in the sector which is much fairer than a percentage increase.“

John Gallacher, Scottish organiser and UNISON lead for FE said:
“This sets up the NJNC for a wider programme of negotiations. Scottish Government (post May 2016) must provide investment for a root and branch rationalisation and harmonisation of pay rates and conditions across the sector in an acceptable timescale. The disparities currently are still extreme after many years of college level bargaining”

Shirley Sephton, Vice Chair, said:
“UNISON members voted to accept this offer across Scotland in the knowledge that this was the best deal we could get for 2015 through negotiation. They wish to work with management to help establish National Bargaining and in return will expect all Scottish Boards to honour the national agreement and put the increase into pay as soon as possible.”


Notes for editors

The full support staff deal is for:

  • A consolidated 1% uplift for all employees (or)
  • £300 pro rata for employees earning below £30k (whichever is the greater)
  • The sector will pay the living wage for its directly employed staff.

Commitments from the management:

  • The Management Side is committed to securing living wage accreditation for all colleges, the management side and the trade unions will work to achieve this by December 2016.
  • Standardisation of the working week to 35 hours, with no detriment to earnings, the Management Side will work to achieve this standardisation by April 2016.
  • To provide on a pro rata basis an additional unconsolidated two days annual leave entitlement for all support staff for 2015/16.
  • To provide a minimum of 27 days leave pro rata, with no impact on the maximum entitlement from April 2015.
  • Address as a priority leave entitlements across the sector by 31 March 2016
  • Will commit to look at a flat cash settlement from 2016
  • If there is any change to the % increase or flat cash settlement to lecturers, the support staff  will receive this
  • To establish a short life working group, to develop an agreed timetable inclusive of a route map of key priorities and key deliverables, by 31 March 2016. The Management Side believe this offers the best prospect of introducing a workforce modernisation programme inclusive of standardisation and harmonisation across the sector. The management side envisage such a route map addressing:
  • A national job evaluation scheme
  • A national pay and grading scale
  • National Conditions of service
  • National Pay Protection
  • Pay award will be effective from April 2015.

UNISON Contacts:
Chris Greenshields (Chair or FE committee) 07722 329 223.
John Gallacher (Scottish organiser) 07904 342 2825
Danny Phillips (Communications officer) 07944 664 110