Colleges in Scotland could join colleagues south of the border in strike action

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Support staff could join lecturers for the first national industrial action in Scotish colleges for decades.

Unison, the union that represents support staff, has announced it is balloting members and recommending that they reject the offer of a 1 per cent pay rise made by employer representatives as part of the sector’s bid to return to national collective bargaining.

The union says the 1 per cent consolidated pay award, with a £300 flat rate for any staff earning less than £21,000, falls short of its call for £1,000, which would have started to address the pay variances across the nation’s colleges.

Chris Greenshields, Unison chairman for FE, said the final offer was “a slap in the face for FE support staff who have been working all hours to maintain college services for students in the face of job cuts and mergers”.

He added: “We want an end to the unfair system of percentage rises which, if applied to all staff, would see some principals in line for a £1,400 pay rise while some support staff will only get £210 to meet the cost of inflation.”

The announcement comes a week after the EIS-FELA union, which represents lecturers, announced it would recommend rejecting the employers’ offer. EIS general secretary Larry Flanagan said: “It is simply unacceptable for the management side to drag out the pay round for almost a year, only to then offer exactly the same cash-terms percentage pay rise that was previously proposed and rejected. It is also extremely disappointing that the final offer reinforces the pay imbalance across the sector. The pay gap is already extremely wide, amounting to almost a £7,000 difference in some cases, for lecturers doing the same job in different colleges.”

Plans for a return to national collective bargaining was announced as part of the Scottish government’s reform of the college sector.

Next week, the University and College Union is to hold a national strike in its pay dispute with the Association of Colleges in England. 

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