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Education / Schools and colleges set to be affected by strikes this month

Shetland College, part of UHI Shetland, will be affected by strike action on Thursday. Photo: Shetland News

LECTURERS at UHI Shetland are set to walk out on Thursday in what will be the first day of a four week programme of industrial action across all colleges in Scotland as part of a pay dispute.

The strike action by members of the EIS-FELA union mirrors a similar programme of strike days by Unison.

A second day of industrial action at UHI Shetland colleges in Lerwick and Scalloway are pencilled in for 20 September.

Action short of strike, in the form of a resulting boycott and work to contract, continues alongside the programme of strike action.

The further education branch of the EIS union seeks what they call “a fully funded pay award” for both 2022/23 and 2023/24.

The pay dispute has been ongoing since June last year, with the current offer from the employers (CES) being 4.5 per cent for 2022-23 and 3.5 per cent for 2023-24.

The union describes it as unacceptable that any pay award made could be funded by compulsory redundancies within colleges.

“We will not trade jobs for pay and no worker should ever be pressured to accept a pay offer that will result in hundreds of job losses, least of all in the public sector,” the union said.

“The college sector provides opportunities for the most vulnerable and financially disadvantaged in our community and this is severely under threat at the moment.”

Meanwhile, many islands’ schools are likely to close at some time later in September as Unison organised catering, cleaning, support and administration staff go on strike.

Strike days across Scotland will be announced in the coming days, the union said, adding that they will give local government employers 14 days notice of dates.

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Unison’s Scotland local government committee chair Mark Ferguson said: “This is not a highly paid workforce. Three quarters of local government workers earn less than the average Scottish wage, £33,000 per year, and the majority of them are women.

“The current pay offer falls short of the current rate of inflation and would amount to a real-terms pay cut, adding further stress to a dedicated workforce who are already suffering from the current cost of living crises.”

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