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UHI Inverness likely to be hit by strike action at Scottish colleges

By Neil MacPhail

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Support staff from UHI Inverness will join more than 2,000 colleagues in colleges across Scotland going out on strike on September 7 in a dispute over pay, terms, and conditions, said UNISON today. (Tuesday Aug 29)

The national strike day will be followed by a rolling programme of dates for localised action in colleges across the country.

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, says the union.

Staff who belong to UNISON voted overwhelmingly (93%) in April to strike.

The union represents employees who are vital to college services and student support across Scotland. They include librarians, IT specialists, technicians, administrative and business support staff, cleaners, canteen workers and estate management staff.

UNISON further education branch secretary Chris Greenshields said: “College staff were due this pay increase a year ago. It’s unacceptable, even by the standards of the college sector, to take this long to agree a pay deal.

The employers’ idea of a resolution to the crisis is to threaten our members with compulsory redundancy. Effectively members are being asked to pay for their own pay rise with their job, during a cost-of-living crisis. We need the same guarantee that has been given to the rest of the public sector that there will be no compulsory redundancies.

“UNISON has appealed to the Scottish government to help us find a solution - employers must extend the no compulsory redundancy guarantee to college staff. Colleges are publicly funded but the Government refuses to intervene. The Minister seems willing to allow the strikes to proceed rather than ensure staff get a decent pay rise.”

UNISON is Scotland’s public service union and the largest union in Scotland.

The colleges where UNISON has a mandate to take strike action are: City of Glasgow College; Edinburgh College; Fife College; Glasgow Clyde College; West College Scotland; North East Scotland College; Glasgow Kelvin College; Ayrshire College; Dundee & Angus College; New College Lanarkshire; UHI Argyll; UHI Moray; UHI Perth; UHI Inverness; Borders College; Dumfries & Galloway College; South Lanarkshire College; West Lothian College; Forth Valley College; Newbattle Abbey College.

The dates for further local strikes will be announced in the coming days.

UNISON said 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%.

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