Socialist Worker

Scottish college workers strike to demand pay rise

by Raymie Kiernan
Issue No. 2523

Pickets at North Highland College

Pickets at North Highland College (Pic: Unison Scotland )

Over 2,500 college support workers in Scotland struck on Tuesday to demand the same lump sum pay rise as lecturers. Unison union members, who struck earlier this month, were joined by GMB union members.

Bosses argue that “the combination of last year's settlement and the current offer equates to a 3.6 percent pay rise”.

Glasgow Clyde College Unison steward Claire told Socialist Worker, “At national bargaining it was agreed there would be a flat rate increase—a percentage is not a flat rate.”

But the percentage rise works out well for some. Claire said, “What we’re seeing is four different flat rates.

“You have £230 if you earn over £22,000 a year, £400 if you’re under that, £450 for teaching staff and up to £2,000 for senior management.

“We’re facing the same cost of living increases as everyone else. We want to know why our flat rate is £230 when management, who are on £65,000 and upwards, get up to £2,000.”

Bosses were desperate to undermine the strike.

At Glasgow Clyde College’s Langside campus workers not in Unison or GMB were forced to sign in or face having their pay docked and bosses changed the absence policy for the day.

Claire said, “Anyone off sick today can’t submit a self-certificate, even though that is the rule. Today this is suspended and they have to get a doctor’s note. This is the kind of management tactic we’re used to in further education that’s used undermine our democratic right to protest.”


She said janitorial staff were even pressured to train others in their job while they go on strike.

At the Anniesland campus pickets were very angry at bosses’ attitude and said health and safety was being breached during the strike.

The action was strong with dozens joining the pickets. Strikers were boosted by support from some teaching staff and from the National Union of Students (NUS) Scotland.

NUS Scotland president Vonnie Sandlan said, “We will always show solidarity with fellow unions, standing fully behind our staff. We want to see them getting the job recognition and reward they deserve.”

Unfortunately there were reports of EIS Fela lecturers’ union members being told that their union would not support them if they refused to cross a picket line. This needs to be addressed.

Strikers were set to protest at the Scottish parliament as Socialist Worker went to press.

They are determined to win their fight. Claire said, “We’ll continue our industrial action until we get equality and we’re prepared to keep going out until we get that.”

Thanks to Drew McEwan and Dave Sherry

Workers at Hull College are balloting for strikes to stop cuts. Bosses want to slash some 141 jobs.

They have already axed 85 jobs since 2011.

The ballot of UCU union members ends next Friday.

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