College bosses in Scotland have admitted defeat and agreed to pay further education support staff the same flat rate pay rise won by lecturers earlier this year.
Bosses told workers they were wasting their time on strikes and that “colleges simply don’t have the funds to keep on paying out more and more money” but today, Friday, victory is theirs.
Employers have been cowed by the threat of further industrial action. Walkouts by workers across 20 Scottish colleges had stunned management and forced them back into talks.
Unison union members rejected a divisive pay deal that offered some workers more money than others by nine to one and the threat of more strikes pushed bosses over the edge.
Majority union Unison has recommended acceptance of a £450 consolidated pay rise on top of the £100 interim payment given to support staff in April.
The workers include people working in administration, admissions, funding, catering, cleaning, welfare advisers, security, classroom assistants and technicians.
“Our members are overjoyed with the result just before Christmas—it’s a real present,” Jim Mackenzie, secretary of the Unison shop stewards’ committee at Edinburgh College, told Socialist Worker.
“We were told no one was listening to us. Well someone was. Over 300 new members have joined the union since the pay dispute started. Thanks to Socialist Worker for all your support.”
The deal is expected to be ratified at Unison’s sector committee on Wednesday.
For the second time this year Scotland’s college bosses have been given a bloody nose by workers’ collective action backed by a campaign of political pressure on the Scottish National Party (SNP).
The SNP’s programme of restructuring and college mergers has disguised massive funding cuts, job losses, dwindling student numbers and course cuts as it implements austerity in Scotland.
Its 2011 manifesto promised trade unions a return to national bargaining.
Yet after five years of prevarication, including two years of talks, it was just months of pressure from industrial action that made the breakthrough.
This is the lesson to take into future talks on pay and national terms and conditions for all Scotland’s college workers. It is also a lesson for Scottish local government workers currently in talks with employers over pay in the run-up to council elections in May.
Fighting gets results.