College support staff accept pay deal as Paisley lecturers remain on picket line

Members of Unison, Unite and EIS-FELA trade unions stand on the picket line on Renfrew Road, Paisley
-Credit: (Image: Andrew Neil)

College support staff have accepted a pay deal to end almost two years of strikes as union chiefs offer up £5 million to support lecturers who remain on the picket line in Paisley.

Staff at West College Scotland (WCS) including librarians, IT specialists, administrators, cleaners, canteen and estate management workers have voted overwhelmingly to accept a three-year pay deal.

The deal – negotiated by non-teaching union Unison – gives a flat-rate increase of £5,000 paid in instalments over three years, with a guarantee of no compulsory redundancies until September 2024 – a timeframe it hopes to see extended.

The news was confirmed by the public sector union which said there had never previously been a no redundancy guarantee for the sector. It brings to an end almost two years of industrial action, including strikes at the Renfrew Road campus.

Unison Scotland further education branch secretary Chris Greenshields said: “This result would not have been reached without the resolve of Unison’s members working in colleges. It took nearly two years of industrial action and the threat of strikes during exam periods to secure these concessions.

“Importantly, the new offer confirms a guarantee of no compulsory redundancies until September 2024, the first guarantee of its kind in the sector. If the employers had accepted similar proposals made by Unison last year, there would have been no need for industrial action. The Scottish Government must learn lessons from this.”

Disruption at the Paisley campus of WCS will, however, continue as teaching staff remain on strike. EIS-FELA confirmed last week that its members would down tools for four out of every five working days until the end of term.

The prolonged absence from the classroom comes after WCS confirmed it would dock the wages of all staff who take part in the nationwide results boycott in which students are told their grades but they are not recorded in the formal register.

The education union has now confirmed it will launch a £5m support fund for its members who have endured significant financial hardship in their ongoing fight for a fair wage.

EIS-FELA chief Andrea Bradley said the funding was a clear signal that members would “not back down” in their long-running fight for a decent wage.

Don't miss the latest Renfrewshire headlines – sign up to our free daily newsletter here