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College staff strikes to go ahead as union hits out at Scottish Government

College staff strikes to go ahead as union hits out at Scottish Government

College strikes will go ahead after a union criticised a lack of intervention from the Scottish Government.

Unison Scotland, which represents college support staff, wrote to Scottish higher and further education minister Graeme Dey to express disappointment at the lack of intervention in resolving the pay dispute.

The letter was sent the day before Unison’s national day of strike action on Thursday which will see more than 2,000 workers across Scotland’s colleges walk out in a dispute over pay, terms and conditions.

It will be followed by rolling strikes from September 11 until September 26 across the country.

Staff were balloted in April over colleges’ failure to agree on pay and the national harmonisation of terms and conditions, Unison said.

Unison wrote to Mr Dey in response to a letter in which he ruled out any Scottish Government funding to resolve the dispute, and also failed to rule out compulsory redundancies.

John Mooney, Unison Scotland’s head of further education, said: “This just shows how completely out of touch the minister is.

“Rather than dealing with the critical issue of sorting out a long-overdue pay deal for our hardworking further education staff, he completely refuses to intervene to protect jobs and avert strike action.

“He also fails to rule out compulsory redundancies across Scotland’s colleges, leaving Scotland’s colleges the only public service that is not covered by the no-compulsory redundancies policy.

“The last thing our members want to do is take strike action, but they have been left with no choice as each pay offer comes with the very real threat of compulsory redundancies.

“If the minister is serious about wanting to avoid disruption to students, then he should start by valuing the people who deliver the vital services Scotland’s students rely upon and work with Unison to ensure workers get the fair pay and conditions they deserve.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “While operational decisions on pay and staffing matters are the responsibility of individual colleges, the Scottish Government remains concerned by the impact this current action is having on students.

“We expect employers and trade unions to make every effort to reach a settlement which is both fair and affordable with a view of bringing this industrial action to a close.

“The Scottish Government recognises the crucial role that colleges play, which is why we have allocated £787 million in funding for 2023-24, despite the unprecedented financial challenges facing government.

“The college sector’s resource budget has been increased by over £168 million since 2012-13.”