UNISON to ballot further education members for strike action in dispute over pay

Scotland’s college support staff are planning an ‘autumn of discontent’ after college bosses failed to deliver a fair deal for support staff.

Support staff have been offered £230 in comparison to the £450 settlement already paid out to teaching colleagues.

National negotiations broke down last week (Thursday) and UNISON Scotland – the union for college support staff – will now ballot its members for strike action on the 2016 pay settlement. The move follows recent industrial action in Scotland’s 26 colleges by teaching staff (represented by EIS/FELA) and a two-year deal for teaching staff. The troubled sector could now be heading for its second national strike within a few months.

Chris Greenshields, chair of UNISON Scotland in further education, said: “Our demand is simple and fair. As a minimum our members should receive parity with our teaching colleagues in the EIS. There should be equality of treatment for workers in the same sector, within the same national bargaining machinery and with the same local employers. There is no reason for anything short of equal treatment. The employers reportedly worked through the night to reach a deal with the EIS. Support staff in colleges deserve better, all we are asking for is to be treated fairly.”

Shirley Sephton, vice chair of UNISON Scotland in further education, said: “Our members deliver key support services to colleges and students including finance, admissions, bursary services and estates. We would not wish to see these services disrupted by industrial action during 2016.”

John Gallacher, UNISON lead officer for further education, said: “UNISON wishes to make a success of the new national bargaining arrangements put in place by the SNP Government. However, the machinery seems to lurch between paralysis and crisis. The Scottish further education bosses really need to get their act together, create momentum and deliver a fair and equal pay and grading structure, and set of terms and conditions of employment for all staff who work in the 26 new colleges.”