Colin Smyth MSP met with UNISON members from Dumfries and Galloway, alongside Labour’s Education Spokesperson Iain Gray, during their recent lobby of the Scottish Parliament.
The South MSP has called on the Government to intervene in the ongoing college pay dispute.
The members were lobbying Scottish Parliament during the latest round of disputes over pay which has already seen two days of strike action by Further Education staff across Scotland.
The dispute centres around college support staff’s grievances that they have not been offered the same flat-rate pay increase as their teaching colleagues.
After meeting with UNISON members from Dumfries and Galloway, Colin Smyth commented: “The handling of this dispute by the Scottish Government has been absolutely appalling.
“College support staff play a vital role in delivering further education and the Government should recognise this by ensuring that proper funding is available in order for a decent offer to be made to all staff working within the sector.
“The strike action that we are witnessing is a direct result of Scottish Government cuts to Further Education budgets and Government Ministers have a responsibility to resolve this, not only for the workers, but also for the students whose education is being disrupted.
“It is particularly disappointing that when the Training Minister Jamie Hepburn visited the College recently he didn’t take the time to meet with UNISON and then he would understand the concerns they have. Strike action helps no one.
“Staff lose pay and students can lose time in classes. It’s time for some action from the Scottish Government to prevent further disruption at our local colleges.”
The dispute over pay conditions remains ongoing with a further two consecutive days of strike action planned in October.
Unison members held a picket line at the Stranraer Campus of Dumfries and Galloway College on Tuesday 27th September over the pay awards.
The row centres on the pay rise for 2016, as college bosses awarded lecturing staff a flat rate rise of £450, while most low-paid support staff were offered £230 – almost half that awarded to their teaching colleagues.
Shona Struthers, Chief Executive of Colleges Scotland said: “It is disappointing that a very small number of GMB and UNISON members have opted to strike.
“With the exception of one campus, we are pleased that all of our colleges have been able to remain open. However, there can be little doubt that such industrial action affects both students and the wider college community.
“All college support staff will benefit from what we contend is a fair and reasonable offer. For
instance, those earning £22,000 or less will gain a 3.6% increase over two years which is well above inflation and public sector pay policy.”