Scottish College staff annouce first one-day strike


Scottish College staff annouce first one-day strike

Over 600 Prospect members at the Scottish Agricultural College (SAC) will take part in a one–day strike on Thursday 9 January, marking the beginning of a campaign of industrial action in an ongoing dispute over pay.

Staff will leave work at 11am to establish picket lines outside the colleges’ centres before returning to their duties at 2pm.

Members also voted for action short of a strike, which will take the form of a work to rule and undertaking only their contractual duties. A second stoppage is planned for Wednesday, January 22. The dates of both strike days were chosen in a bid to minimise the disruption to students at the colleges.

The decision follows the collapse of talks through the conciliation service Acas to secure some form of annual pay rise for SAC staff. While management did offer some form of rise during the negotiations, the union rejected the offer, as it would still leave the majority of staff with a zero pay increase. It will be the first time in almost 30 years that staff at the colleges have taken direct industrial action.

A ballot of Prospect members at SAC revealed that on a turnout of 75%, nearly 63% voted to strike while almost 845 voted in favour of some form of industrial action.

Prospect negotiator Alan Denney said: "Our members at SAC are professional people who do not wish to take action lightly but the ballot result is a reflection of the strength of ill-feeling among members. A zero pay increase for this year amounts to asking members to agree to a pay cut in real terms.

"Members who have worked closely with management over the last two years to help reduce SAC’s deficit are especially demoralised by the discovery that SAC management did not even approach the Scottish Executive to request funding to meet a cost of living increase."

SAC has campuses in Aberdeen, Ayr and Edinburgh as well as 23 advisory offices and eight livestock disease surveillance centres throughout Scotland. The action is likely to affect the education, advisory and veterinary services that the college provides to Scotland’s agricultural community.