UNISON lambasts further education minister for failing to step in and avert college strike action

UNISON Scotland has today (Wednesday) written to the Minister for Higher and Further Education to express disappointment at the lack of government intervention in resolving the college pay dispute.

The letter was sent on the eve of UNISON’s national day of strike action which will see more than 2,000 workers across Scotland’s colleges walk out in a dispute over pay, terms and conditions tomorrow (Thursday). The day of action will be followed by a rolling programme of dates for localised action in colleges across the country.

UNISON wrote to Graeme Dey in response to his letter to the union this week where he ruled out any Scottish government funding to resolve the dispute. He also failed to rule out compulsory redundancies.

John Mooney, UNISON Scotland head of further education, said: “This just shows how completely out of touch the minister is.

“Rather than dealing with the critical issue of sorting out a long-overdue pay deal for our hardworking further education staff, he completely refuses to intervene to protect jobs and avert strike action. He also fails to rule out compulsory redundancies across Scotland’s colleges – leaving Scotland’s colleges the only public service that is not covered by the no-compulsory redundancies policy.

“The last thing our members want to do is take strike action, but they have been left with no choice as each pay offer comes with the very real threat of compulsory redundancies.

“If the minister is serious about wanting to avoid disruption to students then he should start by valuing the people who deliver the vital services Scotland’s students rely upon and work with UNISON to ensure workers get the fair pay and conditions they deserve.”

Notes to editors

  • UNISON’s national day of strike action will affect colleges across the country. As well as pickets at individual colleges, a national rally is being held outside the Scottish Parliament tomorrow (Thursday) from 11am.
  • UNISON’s national day of strike action will be followed by rolling strike action in individual colleges as detailed below:

11th September – New College Lanarkshire and Orkney

12th September – Glasgow Clyde College

13th September – Forth Valley College and Moray

14th September – Glasgow Kelvin College and North East Scotland College

15th September – Fife College & North Highland College

18th September – West College Scotland and Newbattle

19th September – Ayrshire College and UHI Argyll

20th September – South Lanarkshire College

21st September – Dumfries & Galloway and Dundee & Angus

22nd September – UHI Perth College & Edinburgh College

25th September – UHI Inverness & West Lothian College

26th September – City of Glasgow College and Borders

  • UNISON is the union for college support staff. It is Scotland’s public service union and the largest union in Scotland.
  • You can read UNISON’s reply here. You can read the letter sent by Minister Graeme Day to UNISON here.
  • Although college employers have increased their offer from 2% to £3,500 flat rate payment over two years, this comes with a real threat of compulsory redundancies of college support staff. Staff were balloted in April 2023 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%.