Further education support workers in Scotland could strike on two days this month if talks with bosses break down over unequal lump sum payments to college workers.
Chris Greenshields chairs the Unison union’s Scottish FE committee. He said 2,500 support workers fighting for the same £450 payment given to lecturers were prepared to walk out.
It follows two days of strikes last month in a fight to make bosses pay support workers more than the £230 on offer. The dispute is part of over five years of negotiations, campaigning and strikes.
They are demanding that the Scottish National Party (SNP) honour its promise to return national bargaining to Scotland’s FE sector.
During that time the SNP has embarked on a disastrous college merger programme that has slashed funding, jobs and student numbers.
Around 50 angry college workers held a noisy protest outside a slap-up banquet put on by City of Glasgow College for SNP education secretary John Swinney last Thursday.
Some £280 million was spent building the new college. Catering worker Eddie was adamant that the money was there for pay parity.
He said, “The college says it’s committed to diversity, equality and inclusivity, but that doesn’t seem to apply to pay.”
Bosses’ group Colleges Scotland also seems to be backtracking on an equal pay deal won by lecturers in March. EIS-Fela union vice-president Pam Currie said there was “a deliberate and concerted effort to undermine and unpick the agreement”.
Shona Struthers, chief executive of Colleges Scotland, claimed that as colleges “can no longer hold reserves” honouring the pay deal was “increasingly difficult”.
She failed to mention the £100 million colleges squirrelled away when the SNP brought them back into the public sector.
This is more than enough to pay workers.
If the SNP and the bosses refuse to budge then workers need to use their industrial muscle again and strike to force them to pay up.
Thanks to Alan Thomson