Scotland: Public sector pay cap for college staff abandoned as unions back proposal

Finance Secretary Derek Mackay outlined the government

Finance Secretary Derek Mackay  

THE cap on public sector pay is about to be broken for 5500 support staff in Scotland’s further education colleges.

Following several weeks of negotiations on pay and leave, support staff unions — Unison, Unite and GMB — and employers’ representatives agreed a new deal backdated to April 1.

The proposals will see all support staff in colleges receive a flat rate pay rise of £425 plus five days’ additional annual leave from the same date. Unison will be recommending the deal to its members.

Chris Greenshields, further education chair of Unison, said: “This proposal breaks the government’s one per cent pay cap in the public sector, but it is still not overly generous given inflation at 2.8 per cent and recent trends.

“Public sector workers’ pay has been held back for years. Whilst in Scottish colleges this is the third of three decent settlements in 2015, 2016 and this year, pay has still not kept up with prices.

“The Scottish Government needs to seriously review its position across the board of pay bargaining, as was discussed this week in Westminster, and fair pay re-introduced across the Scottish public sector for 2018 settlements”

John Gallacher, the union’s head of bargaining, said: “These recent discussions prove that the national bargaining machinery in Scottish further education can deliver positive outcomes for staff and colleges through rational and mature talks.

“Hopefully it is a watershed moment and we can move forward jointly to make progress with pace on what is a heavy agenda on job evaluation, pay and grading and terms and conditions for support staff.

“However, achievement of a fully comprehensive pay and grading model and set of conditions of service for support staff across all Scottish colleges will require investment by government and the funding council.”

Meanwhile, the Scottish Government’s pledge on lifting the public sector pay cap has been welcomed by the professional body of midwives.

In the Scottish Parliament on Thursday, the Finance Secretary Derek Mackay said the Scottish Government “has committed to lifting the pay cap” for public sector workers.

Mackay told MSPs: “We understand the situation of people in the workforce on the lowest incomes, whose spending power has reduced as a consequence of rising inflation. That is why we have a position that will take account of the public finances and the cost of living.

“The First Minister has made it clear that it will not be assumed that the one per cent pay cap will be maintained next year or in future years.”

Mary Ross-Davie, Royal Collegeof Midwives (RCM) director for Scotland, said: “This is a move that we applaud, and will be very good news for our hard-pressed and hard working midwives, and other NHS staff.”

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