Strike action could hit student appeals process

Unite the union has today (22 July) confirmed that its Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) members could take strike action directly hitting the student appeals process.

On an 85 percent turnout, 95 per cent rejected the pay offer, with 84 per cent indicating that they would be prepared to strike.

The offer is worth a maximum of 4 per cent for some staff but as little as 1.7 per cent for a significant number of long-serving SQA staff just as inflation (RPI) soared to hit a forty-year high at 11.8 per cent.

Unite confirmed that it will now launch an industrial action ballot involving its SQA members in the coming weeks. The trade union represents hundreds of SQA workers across all levels of staff and functions. 

Unite has also reiterated its serious ongoing concerns in relation to the proposed disbanding of the SQA. This includes lack of assurances over job roles and locations, conditions and pay in any new organisation.

Alison MacLean, Unite industrial officer said: “Hundreds of our SQA members are increasingly concerned about their futures due to the replacement of the SQA. They are being expected to just get on with it and now to add insult to injury some of our members are also being made an ‘offer’ as low as 1.7% while inflation soars. Unite will defend our members’ jobs, pay and conditions, and we will now ballot on strike action which could directly hit the student appeals process.” 

In March this year, a report by Professor Ken Muir put forward several proposals for the reform of Scotland’s education and qualifications system. This included the replacement of the 1,000-strong SQA workforce with a new body. Three new national bodies are to be created - a qualifications body, a national agency for Scottish education, and an independent inspection body.

Alison MacLean, added: “We have legitimate concerns over changes to job roles, conditions and pay due to the SQA’s disbanding. How on earth the Scottish Government think they can have a new organisation in action by the winter without all these issues being resolved just beggars belief.”

The Scottish Government has given a commitment to delivering an operating model for these new bodies by the winter of this year with the new bodies to be fully operational in 2024.  Unite has maintained its position that it will be impossible for the new operating model to be in place later this year without the legitimate concerns of its members being addressed.


Notes to Editor

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Unite Scotland is the country’s biggest and most diverse trade union with around 150,000 members. The union is led in Scotland by Pat Rafferty