ACAS fails to settle Scottish college dispute

ACAS fails to settle Scottish college dispute

Last ditch attempts to avert industrial action at the Scottish Agricultural College (SAC) failed last night after a revised offer from management still left nearly 80% of professional staff at the college without a pay increase.

Talks at the conciliation service ACAS broke up without agreement and Prospect, the union representing 600 members who provide SAC’s services, will now continue a ballot on industrial action, including a strike.

If the result, due on December 12, is in favour of action members will take part in a one-day strike in late December or early January. A work to rule would also affect tuition at SAC’s three sites in Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Auchincruive as well as veterinary, research and advisory services to Scotland’s agricultural community.

"Exhaustive talks between ACAS, Prospect and SAC management yesterday ended with no settlement in sight and no planned further talks. While management did make an offer halfway through the talks it would still result in nearly 80% of members facing a zero pay increase, or in real terms, what is effectively a pay cut," said Prospect negotiatorAlan Denney.

"Despite yesterday’s efforts to reach an agreed position we were disappointed that management couldn’t go the final mile in order to ensure all members receive something in the way of a pay increase. It is particularly demoralising for members who have worked closely with management over the last two years to help reduce SAC’s deficit."

The decision to ballot came after hundreds of members expressed their anger at the college’s refusal to make any pay offer in response to the union’s claim for a 3% increase for 2002. Staff were particularly distressed to learn that SAC had not even approached the Scottish Executive to ask for additional funding to meet the cost of a pay rise this year.