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College strike plan

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By Bob Geddes
Annan and Eskdale

STAFF at two college campuses in Dumfries and Galloway College will go on strike on Tuesday at the start of what could be an autumn of discontent.

The dispute is the result of college bosses awarding lecturing staff a £450 flat rate rise in May, while most college support staff have been offered a flat rate increase of £230.

It will be UNISON members’ first ever national strike across Scotland’s further education (FE) colleges.
The dispute is expected to hit 20 colleges, including the campuses at Dumfries and Stranraer.
The college support staff – who work in administration, admissions, funding, catering, cleaning, advisors, security, classroom assistants and technical – are calling for fair pay and parity with their lecturing colleagues.
UNISON took part in national negotiations last week, but FE bosses failed to bring anything new to the table after earlier talks in the new Scottish-wide bargaining forum had failed.
The other support staff trade unions are supporting the campaign and strikes will now follow.
Shirley Sephton, vice chairman of UNISON’s further education committee and based at Stranraer, said: “The colleges should use a small portion of the extra £8.1 million given to the sector this year to address operational pressures to resolve this dispute before things get worse.
“The decision to strike was only taken on Tuesday and we are assessing the situation in this region and across Scotland.
“We hope that this strike will be well-supported and that pickets will be out at Stranraer and the Crichton Campus as well.”
She added: “The 2300 members were balloted and the decision taken to strike. Recent surveys of our membership have shown real low morale in support staff.
“We have been through a difficult merger process and we can’t allow a two-tier system to develop.”
John Gallacher, UNISON’s Scottish organiser, said: “Striking is a last resort, but we will support our members in every way possible to achieve the same fair and reasonable pay settlement as already paid out to teaching colleagues.”

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