Scottish College unions have hit out at what they call “despicable” moves by two college boards to award managers separate pay deals and thousands in additional bonus payments.
This comes as support staff UNISON has announced national strike action on Tuesday over what it believes to be an unfair pay offer to staff.
TES has obtained a Freedom of Information request by the EIS teaching union, showing that a so-called “discretionary payment” totalling £31,729 was shared between seven senior managers at City of Glasgow College in 2015-16.
These payments, the college insisted, were made at the discretion of the board, and were based on performance against its strategic plan. It also stressed senior managers were not part of the national bargaining process.
And UNISON has also told TES that Edinburgh College’s board has endorsed a proposal to award middle managers a 1.5 per cent pay increase backdated to April 2015, as well as a 2 per cent increase from April 2016.
While the college was unable to confirm or deny this, TES understands such a pay deal could significantly exceed the pay offer made to some other staff in the national bargaining process.
College John Gallacher, Scottish organiser for FE at UNISON, said it was "despicable" that middle and senior managers were receiving payments way beyond those offered to other staff “in the midst of a national strike on a pay rise for some 5000 support workers”.
“It’s like the old sketch about the upper, middle and working classes and would be funny if it was not so serious,” he said.
“All FE staff from the janitor to the principal should be part of the ‘new’ single, unitary National Joint Negotiating Committee and subject to the same collective agreements incorporated into employment contracts."
And Larry Flanagan, general secretary of the EIS, said: "All staff need to be paid fairly and consistently across the whole FE sector. This should be done openly and transparently through the national bargaining process."
A return to national bargaining was enshrined in the Post-16 Education (Scotland) Act 2013, and the National Joint Negotiating Committee (NJNC) was set up to make this possible. Progress has been slow, however, and earlier today UNISON announced members across 20 of Scotland’s colleges would go on strike on Tuesday.
They said this was the result of college bosses awarding lecturing staff a £450 flat rate rise in May 2016, while most college support staff had been offered a flat rate of £230. Mr Gallacher said striking was “a last resort”.
Shona Struthers, chief executive of Colleges Scotland’s employers’ association, said a strike would bring massive disruption to students and teaching staff, and UNISON members had been offered the same percentage increase as lecturers which equated to 2.5 per cent over two years.
“According to our calculations UNISON’s demands would add £3.3m to the college sector payroll, which is not financially sustainable going forward.”
A spokeswoman for City of Glasgow College said that senior managers were not part of national bargaining and that discretionary payments were made “in very exceptional circumstances only”. She added: "All such remuneration is approved by the college's board of management and published."