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UHI sites among 21 set to be hit by support staff strike action

By Philip Murray

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Unison members will take strike action.
Unison members will take strike action.

Strikes are set to hit a number of Highland colleges later this month, after a major union announced further industrial action.

More than 2000 support staff based at 21 Scottish colleges will hit the picket line on Thursday, February 29 as part of an ongoing dispute over pay and jobs.

The action, which has been running for 18 months, involves a whole host of support staff – in roles such as librarians, IT specialists, administrators, cleaners, canteen workers and estate management.

And several Highland college will be affected by the latest planned walkout – for among the 21 sites are the University of the Highlands and Islands (UHI) Inverness, UHI Moray, UHI North, West and Hebrides, UHI Perth, and UHI Argyll.

The union says college leaders must make an improved pay offer and guarantee there will no compulsory redundancies if they want to avoid further disruption.

Unison Scotland’s further education branch secretary, Chris Greenshields, said: “College support staff deserve a fair pay rise without the threat of compulsory redundancies.

“Nobody wants to be on strike, but staff have been left with little choice. The union submitted a revised proposal to try and move things along back in December and it took college bosses two months to reject it.”

Chair of Unison Scotland further education committee, Collette Bradleym said: “Further education in Scotland is in chaos. It's time for ministers to step and get this dispute sorted. College staff have not had a pay rise for 18 months, which is completely unacceptable in the middle of a cost-of-living crisis.

“Employees are simply demanding fair pay and no compulsory redundancies. If colleges want to avoid further disruption, they need to start taking those demands seriously.”

Unison's continued action follows a December ballot asking staff if they were prepared to take further strikes – with 81 per cent voting in favour.

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