College axes support staff pay cut plans

Salaries issued before the 2012 Edinburgh College merger will be protected. Picture: Toby Williams
Salaries issued before the 2012 Edinburgh College merger will be protected. Picture: Toby Williams
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EDINBURGH College has shelved plans to slash the wages of support staff by up to £14,000 after lawyers warned it could face court action.

The proposal to remove pay anomalies at the old Telford, Stevenson, and Jewel and Esk colleges has been ditched because of Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service legislation which protects staff when their organisation transfers to a new owner.

The three colleges officially merged in October 2012.

About 230 finance, personnel and maintenance staff had been told to expect pay cuts of thousands of pounds in 2016, with more to come in 2017. But the college has now ruled out the plans, saying salaries would be protected beyond 2016 for most staff.

One employee, who declined to be named, had been facing a pay cut of more than £5000.

They said: “At a Unison meeting at the Sighthill campus there was a vote of no confidence in the [pay evaluation] process that has seen members of support staff have their salaries cut by £14,000, £10,000 and £6000.

“We’ve been through a flawed process of job evaluation without proper guidance, carried out by inexperienced staff.”

Another staff member said many colleagues had lost confidence in both management and Unison, which was involved in the job evaluation process.

The source added: “We had a show-of-hands vote of no confidence in management on Tuesday and there were many who would have liked a ballot of no confidence in Unison.”

The salary review has been launched to remove gender inequalities in pay.

Unison said salaries would be cut by no more than a couple of thousand pounds, but staff have confirmed much higher cuts were threatened.

In one department, an employee was told to expect a salary cut of more than £10,000 – a move that would have left their pay below that of more junior colleagues.

In another case, secretarial staff faced a pay cut of more than £5000, while electricians stood to lose £4000.

A college spokeswoman today confirmed salaries issued before the merger would be protected and said wage reviews would now affect only two per cent of the workforce.

“We are continuing to offer information and support to everyone involved,” she said.

“The Job Evaluation initiative undertaken in partnership with Unison has been a valuable process which is likely to see the majority of staff [pay]remain the same or benefit from a pay increase and also ensure that, going forward, new staff members will be awarded appropriate salaries in relation to those doing similar roles. It takes account of the Equal Pay Act 1970 and the Sex Discrimination Act 1975 while also complying with TUPE commitment.”

Student leaders said the college had lost £13 million in funding in the last four years.

Jeroen van Herk, Edinburgh College’s student president, said: “It is outrageous that the Scottish Government has pushed through the merger of the colleges without putting adequate resources in place to do so.”