Union considering action in college pay dispute

UNISON is considering its next move in the dispute over college support staff's pay.

UNISON is considering its next move in the dispute over college support staff's pay.

The union UNISON is condering its next move in a bid to bring to an end a dispute over pay for support staff in Scotland’s colleges.

Its Further Education Committee will meet tomorrow (Wednesday) to plan its next step although strike action remains a possibility and the organisation has written to Colleges Scotland Employers’ Association and Scottish Ministers to urge a fair negotiated settlement to this long-running dispute.

The row centres on the pay rise for 2016, as college bosses awarded lecturing staff a flat rate rise of £450, while support staff were offered considerably less.

Earlier this month UNISON suspended planned strikes across Scotland’s colleges to bring the employers’ association back to the negotiating table. Talks were held at ACAS on October 27 and November 2, but failed to reach agreement on a deal.

Union members voted 89 per cent to 11 per cent to reject the last offer made prior to the suspension of industrial action. There have been no further talks in the interim despite the efforts of Scottish Government to broker a dialogue.

Chris Greenshields, committee chairman, said: “The Scottish Government and the employers’ association have a fundamental choice here on whether to do the right thing, or to further alienate and demoralise half the staff in Scotland’s colleges. Support staff are the backbone of Scotland’s colleges and don’t deserve to be treated as second-class citizens.”

John Gallacher, UNISON Scotland’s regional manager, also said the situation has reached a “seminal juncture” for all parties involved, and that the 2016 pay round negotiations should be written off as lessons learned to allow the situation to move forward.

He added: “Scotland’s colleges are run by a team of people and to say that one group of staff is worth more than another is divisive and wrong. Our members are not asking for anything more than they deserve – fairness and parity with their colleagues.”